Two on trial over woman's death


The trial of two people in relation to the death of Wexford woman Evelyn Joel opened before Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court yesterday.

Eleanor Joel (38) and John Costen (40) of Cluain Dara, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, have pleaded not guilty to the unlawful killing by neglect of Evelyn Joel on January 7th, 2006.

Prosecuting counsel Justin Dillon SC told the jury of seven men and five women that central to the case was that Evelyn Joel suffered from multiple sclerosis, with the case focusing on the last four to five weeks she was in the house of her daughter, Eleanor Joel, and Eleanor’s partner, Mr Costen, before she was moved to Wexford General Hospital.

He said it seemed that over the last four to five weeks of her life, Evelyn Joel was in bed all of the time.

‘Not looked after’

Mr Dillon said that when she was found, Evelyn Joel was effectively in her own filth; she had not been looked after. When she was brought to hospital she had to be washed before staff could treat her. They cleaned her as best they could, but sadly she died.

Subsequently, he said, a postmortem was carried out by State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy who concluded that death came about through pneumonia brought on by complicating sepsis syndrome due to infected pressure sores due to immobilisation due to multiple sclerosis.

Ambulance technician Ray Sinnott told the court that when called to the house, he and a colleague found a black bag in the bedroom where Evelyn Joel was in bed. She looked very thin and very pale. When he pulled the sheets back he saw nappies and excrement, and the mattress was stained. They contacted the doctor.

Dr Maurice Fitzgerald of Wexford hospital said it was unusual to be asked to go to an ambulance because normally a patient would be brought to casualty or a ward. The trial continues.