Tuesday 25 October 2016

Jury hears evidence 'from beyond the grave' in assisted suicide case


THE jury in the trial of a woman accused of assisting the suicide of her friend has heard the recorded last words of the deceased.

In her final message, Bernadette Forde stated that she was ending her life with no help from others.

She expressed her frustration that she had to take her life on her own and couldn’t speak to anyone close to her for fear she “could get them into trouble”.

The 51-year-old said that Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis had degraded her quality of life to the point where she wanted to end it with the assistance of the euthanasia organisation, Dignitas, in Zurich, Switzerland.

She said that when this plan failed she ordered “stuff from Mexico” online.

Ms Forde’s friend and carer Gail O’Rorke is accused at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court of helping her commit suicide by assisting her in obtaining and taking the drug phenobarbital.

O’Rorke (43), a taxi driver of Kilclare Gardens, Tallaght, has pleaded not guilty to aiding and abetting the suicide of Ms Forde (51) 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 by means of attempting to arrange travel to Zurich, Switzerland, for such purpose.

She further denies 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.

At the start of the trial yesterday the prosecution told the jury that they will hear evidence “from beyond the grave” in the form of a message recorded by Ms Forde before her death.

The trial heard the message was found on a dictaphone beside the deceased in her Donnybrook home.

In the recording Ms Forde states that she cannot have “Gail or Mary or anyone” around her anymore for fear she could get them into trouble.

She continued: “Why is it in Ireland that I can’t get my way to Dignitas? I’m afraid questions could be asked but there shouldn’t be a question mark because it’s what I wanted.”

In a summary of the expected evidence the prosecution said Ms Forde decided to end her life after being involved in a car crash which left her permanently confined to a wheelchair.

The jury was told that Ms O’Rorke was in a hotel in Kilkenny when the suicide occurred.

One of the first witnesses, Elizabeth Cremin, said she let herself into Ms Forde’s apartment in Morehampton Mews, Donnybrook.

“It looked like she was asleep but by her pallor I knew that she wasn’t,” she said.

The trial also heard from Garda Andrew Dermody who arrived on the scene and checked Ms Forde for signs of life.

Gda Dermody said he found letters by Ms Forde.

“I have no energy to do anything,” one letter read. “I can’t even hold a book. Days and nights are becoming a horror.”

The trial is expected to last two weeks.

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