herald

Saturday 1 October 2016

Assisted suicide suspect named in will to inherit 30pc of her pal's estate

COURTS

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gail2
Bernadette Forde

A WOMAN accused of helping her friend take her own life denied to gardai that she knowingly paid for lethal drugs for the deceased.

Gail O'Rorke said she had a "gut feeling something was going to happen" the day before Bernadette Forde's suicide, but that she couldn't do anything to stop it.

"I'm glad she did what she had to do and is at peace," she said in a statement to gardai made the day after the death. "I'm also glad she didn't tell me as I would have refused to help. I think this is a necessary evil for her to do."

Ms Forde (51), a former human resources manager with Guinness, took her own life in June 2011 using the drug pentobarbital after it was ordered online from Mexico. The trial also heard yesterday that Ms O'Rorke was to inherit 30pc of Ms Forde's estate.

Ms Forde's solicitor Maurice O'Callaghan told the trial that he was completely satisfied that no undue pressure was being put on the woman regarding her will.

Ms O'Rorke (43), a taxi driver from Kilclare Gardens, Tallaght, has pleaded not guilty to aiding and abetting the suicide of Ms Forde by helping her to procure and administer a toxic substance between April 20, 2011 and June 6, 2011 at a location in Dublin.

She also denies that she attempted to aid and abet the suicide of Ms Forde by means of attempting to arrange travel to Zurich, Switzerland, for such purpose between March 10 and April 20, 2011 and that she procured the suicide of Ms Forde between June 4 and June 6, 2011 by means of making funeral arrangements for Ms Forde in advance of her death.

Gda Andrew Dermody told prosecuting counsel James Dwyer that in a statement taken on the day after Ms Forde's death, Ms O'Rorke detailed how she had started as a cleaner for Ms Forde but they developed "a bond and a friendship".

She said they would spend a lot of time together and go for lunch two or three times a week.

The accused described how Ms Forde's multiple sclerosis was getting worse and was aggravated by a car crash in 2008 that hospitalised them both and left Ms Forde permanently confined to a wheelchair.

She said Ms Forde was "angry but accepting" of her disease. "She had done a lot of research, she knew how the disease would progress," she said.

She said Ms Forde began to talk about the euthanasia clinic, Dignitas.

She said "she didn't want to end up in a home".

"I supported her because it was something she wanted. I supported her on her decision," Ms O'Rorke said.

She said they booked a trip to Dignitas in Zurich.

The court earlier heard that gardai intervened and stopped them travelling after a tip-off from the travel agent.

Ms O'Rorke said she did not understand the legal implications of going with Ms Forde and she was unaware it was an offence until she was told by gardai.

The trial continues.

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