Stressed husband asks not to attend Savita inquest

Solicitor says Praveen Halappanavar found testimony on wife’s last hours particularly trying

Praveen Halappanavar, husband of the late Savita Halappanavar, is not attending her inquest today as he has found the hearings this week extremely stressful, his solicitor said.

Speaking to reporters on his way into Galway Court House this morning, Gerard O'Donnell said Mr Halappanavar had asked that he be excused.

“It’s been a stressful week for him today and he’s asked to be excused. We will explain that to the coroner. So he won’t be here today. He’ll be here again on Wednesday.”

He said Mr Halappanavar had found the testimony from intensive care nurse Jacinta Gately, who described Ms Halappanavar's last hours and staff efforts to save her, particularly trying.

READ MORE

“He found the whole episode very stressful, but as he had said, his whole version of events is and will be borne out.

“While he’s very composed at all times in the court, it is very, very stressful for him to hear all the details. He’s taking the view that he’s looking for the truth and I think the public are beginning to realise this [as he has told it since last November] is what actually happened.”

No disrespect

Ms Halappanavar's senior counsel, Eugene Gleeson, told the coroner, Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin, his client was not showing the court any disrespect but was "overwrought". Dr MacLoughlin said he understood totally.

Dr MacLoughlin has this morning asked that two witnesses, Ann Maria Burke and Dr Ikechuckwu Uzockwu, be recalled to give evidence on an issue with their evidence about a phone call between the two.

While Ms Burke said she had called Dr Uzockwu on the night of Tuesday 23rd October and told him of Ms Halappanavar’s raised heart-rate, while he has said she told him the latter’s vital signs were normal.

Eileen Barrington SC, for Dr Katherine Astbury, said this morning she felt some aspects of a statement due to be delivered by expert witness, consultant microbiologist Dr Susan Knowles, strayed outside the parameters of the inquest.

The coroner said Dr Knowles would give an expert opinion. It would be at his discretion to allow testimony, as her expertise may be related to issues not directly related to Ms Halappanavar’s death but important for other women in similar situations in the future.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times