Husband to give his account at Savita inquest

Halappanavar inquest opening today in Galway expected to last at least a week


The husband of the late Savita Halappanavar will this morning begin to give his account of the events leading to her death at her inquest when it opens in Galway.

Praveen Halappanavar will be the fourth witness to take the stand after three others who were not centrally involved in the final week of Ms Halappanavar’s life. It would be a difficult day for Mr Halappanavar, his solicitor Gerard O’Donnell said last night. “He is determined to give his statement in person rather than simply having it read into the record. It will be trying.

“It is always upsetting for him to go through all the events again, but I know he feels he owes it to Savita to be heard personally and to give a true and real account of what unfolded that week at Galway University Hospital.

“It is likely to be a lengthy statement, I think it will take all the rest of the day,” Mr O’Donnell continued.

“ He will be led through it by the coroner and I don’t know if there will be any question of him being cross-examined, but he is prepared for that. He is quite determined.”

The main consultant involved in Ms Halappanavar’s care is likely to give her evidence tomorrow.

Among others called will be midwives, a microbiologist and members of the hospital’s intensive-care team.

Ms Halappanavar died at Galway University Hospital on October 28th, having presented at the maternity unit a week earlier with severe back pain. She was 17 weeks pregnant and was found to be miscarrying.

She and her husband were told it would all be over in a few hours, says Mr Halappanavar.

Repeated request

However she continued to miscarry for three more days and, according to Mr Halappanavar, they asked repeatedly for a termination but this was refused because the foetal heartbeat was still present and because they were told this “is a Catholic country”.

She contracted septicaemia and Ecoli and died.

Mr Halappanavar and Mr O’Donnell had a four-hour meeting yesterday with their full legal team in preparation for today.

The inquest opens at 10.30am at Galway Courthouse before Galway coroner Dr Ciarán McLoughlin. He plans to sit each day until 5pm.

If the inquest does not finish this week, it is understood a room in the courthouse has been booked for Thursday and Friday of next week.

Dr McLoughlin is to hear from 16 witnesses involved in Ms Halappanavar’s treatment as well as from his own five expert witnesses, which include a former master of the National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street, Dr Peter Boylan.

Mr Halappanavar will be represented by Eugene Gleeson SC and John O’Donnell (no relation to his solicitor).

His legal team is not calling expert witnesses although it has commissioned an expert report by London-based obstetrician-gynaecologist Roger Varley Clements, which it will use for its own guidance.

The final draft of an unpublished Health Service Executive report into her death has found there was an “overemphasis” on the foetus and an “underemphasis” on Ms Halappanavar’s deteriorating health.