Assisted suicide trial hears last words of dead woman
Mon, Apr 20th, 2015 http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/circuit-court/assisted-suicide-trial-hears-last-words-of-dead-woman-1.2182334
The jury in the case of a woman accused of helping her friend to take her own life has heard a tape recording of the deceased’s final words before she died.
Bernadette Forde (51), took her life in 2011 having been diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis 10 years earlier.
“It has got very, very bad in the last number of months,” the Circuit Criminal Courtheard her recorded voice say.
“I knew that it was getting bad so I had made arrangements to go to Dignitas in Zurich, but my hopes were dashed because the police got to my friend when she went to collect the tickets.”
Last week, Gail O’Rorke (43), of Kilclare Gardens, Tallaght, pleaded not guilty to aiding and abetting the suicide of Ms Forde by helping her to procure and administer a toxic substance between April 20th, 2011 and June 6th, 2011 at a location in Dublin.
On Monday morning she entered not guilty pleas to two further charges. She denied she attempted to aid and abet the suicide by means of arranging travel to Zurich,Switzerland for such purpose between March 10th and April 20th, 2011.
She further denied she procured the suicide by attempting to make funeral arrangements for Ms Forde in advance of her death.
“I knew what I needed to do because I just couldn’t live with this any more – my life is shit,” Ms Forde explained.
“I just can’t keep going.
“Hiding it from friends has been difficult and it’s just so unfair that I can’t have any contact or chat to anyone – that I have to be totally alone.”
She explained how she bought the dictaphone because her condition made it unlikely she would be able to write a suicide note.
“I hope that it [the recording] will make my wishes and my intentions clear to anyone who wants to question it afterwards.
“It’s me and totally me, and nobody else.
“It shouldn’t be a question mark because it’s what I wanted – and what else can I do?”
Representing the prosecution, Remy Farrell SC earlier told the jury that under the Criminal Law Suicide Act it is not an offence to for a person to carry out suicide, but it is to help somebody to do it.
Outlining some of the evidence the jury members will hear over the course of the trial – which is expected to take about two weeks – Mr Farrell said Ms Forde’s last words would be played to them.
They would hear her discuss how she felt about taking her own life, how she came to the decision, and her eagerness that nobody else should be implicated.
Mr Farrell said the jury would have to consider the reliability of such evidence.
Ms Forde was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis in 2001, leaving her with the “bleak prospect” of gradually losing mobility.
A subsequent incident in 2008 left her in a wheelchair.
Following the death of her sister from cancer in 2010, she resolved to take her own life. She decided she would contact Dignitas, the Swiss-based euthanasia organisation.
Later, she decided instead to purchase medication online from Mexico which she would take to end her life.
The jury was told Ms O’Rorke played an instrumental role in her plans.
Elizabeth Cremin, who discovered Ms Forde’s body, said she received a phone call from the accused, who was in Kilkenny, on June 6th, 2011.
Ms O’Rorke said she had been trying unsuccessfully to contact Ms Forde and asked Ms Cremin if she could check on her.
Key to apartment
Ms Cremin, who had a key to her apartment in case of emergencies, found her sitting in her wheelchair with her legs on the couch.
“She looked liked she was asleep but by her pallor I realised she wasn’t,” she said.
She contacted gardaí and awaited their arrival.
Ms Cremin said she knew the deceased for three or four years and described her as being very independent and that she was aware of her intention to end her life.
She said the phone call from the accused that day “wasn’t exactly unexpected”.
The trial continues before Judge Patrick McCartan in the Circuit Criminal Court.