Bernadette Scully told gardaí she was a ‘demented mother with a screaming child’

Woman has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter of her profoundly disabled daughter (11)

It’s alleged that Bernadette Scully killed her daughter  by an act of gross negligence involving the administration of an excessive quantity of chloral hydrate. Photograph: Collins Courts.

It’s alleged that Bernadette Scully killed her daughter by an act of gross negligence involving the administration of an excessive quantity of chloral hydrate. Photograph: Collins Courts.

 

A woman accused of the manslaughter of her profoundly disabled daughter by giving her too much of a sedative, told gardaí that she was a ‘demented mother with a screaming child’ that morning.

The voluntary statement was read into evidence on Friday on the fourth day of the trial of 58-year-old Offaly GP Bernadette Scully.

Ms Scully is charged with unlawfully killing 11-year-old Emily Barut at their home at Emvale, Bachelor’s Walk, Tullamore. It is alleged that she killed her by an act of gross negligence involving the administration of an excessive quantity of chloral hydrate on Saturday September 15th, 2012.

She has pleaded not guilty and is on trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Inspector Ger Glavin of Portlaoise Garda station testified that he invited Ms Scully to Tullamore Garda station on September 20th. She attended voluntarily and gave a voluntary statement about the death of her daughter, who had severe epilepsy, microcephaly and cerebral palsy.

“As you know, Emily was severely disabled,” she began, explaining that she had taken care of her at home all her life, with the consent of her paediatrician.

“If she was in hospital, they didn’t know how to look after her,” she said, noting that the hospital hadn’t been able to treat her colic.

She explained that she had left her job, but had been ‘kind of forced back’.

“I knew at this time in my life I couldn’t do both,” she said, referring to her work as a GP and carer to her daughter.

“The routine was gruelling,” she said.

“When Emily has an episode of colic, she screams and screams,” she said. “For a few hours she would be content and then she would scream again.”

“Every time she opened her eyes, she was crying. I find it very upsetting to see her like that. I was doing by best,” she said.

“Painkillers don’t work. Nothing works,” she added.

She said she had worked so hard to get the balance right when treating her.

“You would want to have seen this colic,” she said.

She said it was gruelling and exhausting, that there were times Emily was crying and ‘we were dying of tiredness’ but would continue. She said they had tried to manage with dignity.

“She was my baby and I just loved her,” she said.

She said she had sought help from a number of sources but nobody would listen to her, no-one would understand.

“I just went down, down, down,” she said. “When you have a severely disabled child, people aren’t queueing up to help.”

She said that when people would ask, ‘you just say, I’m fine’.

She said Emily had a procedure a couple of weeks earlier. The court had already heard that the child was in pain and not sleeping following this.

“I sat with her on my knee all week,” she said

She said she had administered chloral hydrate to ease her pain and stop her seizure at 2am, 6am and 11am that Saturday.

She said that Emily had woken around 2am and she took her out of bed and gave her the first dose, the normal dose of 10 ml.

“She woke again around 6, screaming,” she said, explaining that she had given her more then.

“Normally I wouldn’t have given her chloral hydrate twice,” she said.

“I had her in the bed with me to comfort her,” she said, later explaining that Emily liked her to hold her.

“Emily was screaming and crying. I had to give her more,” she said.

She said Emily had a terrible fit after her partner left for her nephew’s funeral that morning.

“I was really panicked because I hadn’t seen it (so bad) before,” she said.

She said she gave her chloral hydrate, again, maybe two syringes.

“I know I gave her more than I should have,” she said.

“She stopped breathing,” she recalled. “Emily was my life. I just thought I can’t live without her.”

“I knew I couldn’t stay without her,” she said. “I thought, I have to die now.”

“The fit just wouldn’t stop. It was prolonged,” she said, adding that her legs and arms were jerking.

“I gave her more for the fit. She just stopped breathing and I wanted to die myself,” she said.

She said she had turned into some other person after Emily had passed away.

“I never let her down before. I felt I let her down because I hadn’t made her better,” she said.

She then described her two failed suicide attempts that day, the first while her partner was at the funeral.

When this failed, she said she thought she had to get drugs, that she had to be dead.

She wrote out a prescription for sleeping tablets for her mother and also wrote one for an antidepressant.

“It wasn’t fair, but I sent Andrius to the chemist,” she said, referring to her partner, whom she had met five years earlier.

“It was like God sent him to us,” she said of him.

“I just didn’t want to be around after Emily was gone,” she said.

“People will ask why I didn’t call an ambulance. But I was just exhausted. I wasn’t thinking rationally,” she said.

“I was confused and panicked,” she said.

She said she didn’t know how much she gave her during the fit.

“It was just pandemonium,” she said. “Everything just stopped.”

“When Emily passed I wrapped her up in duvet,” she recalled, adding that she gave the child her Padre Pio medal and little teddy.

“I felt Emily was gone,” she said. “I kissed her and I said I’m coming with you right now.”

She was asked what she thought had led to her daughter’s death.

“I’m not 100 percent sure. I think Emily had a massive fit,” she said. “I’m not sure but I suppose the chloral hydrate could have contributed.”

She said she would never have given her that much before and would never have given it during a fit.

“The fit was colossal,” she said.

“My mental state that week, I was on my last legs,” she said. “I was in a frazzled state.”

She said it was a shock to find herself there and a shock that Emily was gone.

“I would never harm her,” she said.

She said her feeling was that she didn’t harm her. “It was a demented mother with a screaming child. I feel I did my best that night,”

“Why would I do something not to keep her?” she asked.

She said she gave her what she could to stop it.

“It did stop the fit, but she also stopped breathing,” she said. “The first two doses were just to stop her crying; the third was pandemonium.”

“I don’t know how I’m going to live without her,” she said.

The family’s pharmacist said earlier that her care of the child was so good that it was the subject of conversation in his pharmacy.

Paddy Carragher of Quirke’s Medical Hall in Tullamore testified that his pharmacy was where Emily got most of her medication. He said that a bottle of chloral hydrate had been dispensed to her on July 27th, 2010 and another on August 13th of that year.

The dosage was ‘5 ml when required at night’ and he would have expected a bottle to last 40 nights at that dosage.

Under cross-examination by Kenneth Fogarty SC, defending, he said that such was the volume of Emily’s medicine that Ms Scully’s partner used to collect it in a van.

He said he knew Ms Scully, who had worked 100 yards down the street from the pharmacy. He was asked about her care of Emily.

“I’m lucky that I don’t have a disabled child,” he said. “I have three children. Having a disabled child must be horrific. I think the care there was nothing short of superb.”

He said that Ms Scully was ‘so caring in such a difficult situation’.

“I’d say it was phenomenal care,” he said. “In our pharmacy, it was the subject of conversation, how good Bernie was in looking after her for 11 to 12 years, of a very disabled child.”

The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of seven women and five men.