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Dublin: 2°C Thursday 20 January 2022

Woman charged with daughter's death sought advice on lethal sedative dose, court hears

Bernadette Scully (58) has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of her daughter.

THE TRIAL OF a woman, charged with the manslaughter of her profoundly disabled daughter, has heard the 999 call made by her partner on finding the child cold in her bed and her mother unconscious.

The jury also heard a call made to the poison information centre by a person identifying herself as the accused, looking for the lethal dose of a medication for an adult female. The jurors had already seen a note found at the scene, in which the author wrote of being unable to let the child’s suffering continue.

The evidence was heard at the Central Criminal Court yesterday (Thursday) on the third day of the trial of 58-year-old Offaly GP Bernadette Scully.

Scully is charged with unlawfully killing 11-year-old Emily Barut at their home at Emvale, Bachelor’s Walk, Tullamore. It’s alleged that she killed her by an act of gross negligence involving the administration of an excessive quantity of chloral hydrate on Saturday 15 September 2012.

She has pleaded not guilty.

Crime scene investigator Detective Garda Colin Lawlor testified that he retrieved a brown envelope from a handbag in the sunroom of the house the following day. The jurors were given copies of what was written on the envelope and on a two-sided letter he found inside.


He said the name, Andrius, was written on one side of the envelope. Tara Burns SC, prosecuting, read out what was written on the other side:

“If anyone thinks I’m awful for doing this, you should have listened to poor little Emily crying the last eight days. I love her dearly, Bernie,” she read.

The barrister then read the letter headed ‘I’m sorry, love’ and dated September 15th, 2012:

“Andrius, my love. I love you more than you’ll ever know. You are what has kept me and Em alive over the past five or six years. I do not want to die. I can not let Emily’s suffering continue. I can’t watch it any longer. The pain is too big, the struggle each day is too hard, the loneliness and isolation too much.

“I’m of sound mind and I leave everything belonging to me and Emily to Andrius. He needs a home. This is to cancel a previous will I made at a stressful time.”

The author then named the person, who was in possession of the will.

“Katrina, I love you and I’m sorry. Please keep close to Dad and look after him for me. Mammy, I’m sorry you have to face this at this time of your life. I love you. Do not let anyone contest my wishes. No wake. I do not want people gawking at our bodies. Can we be cremated and our ashes mixed together and given to Andrius to be scattered in Galway, near the swans, where we were happy?

“Teresa, I’m sorry I won’t see the children growing up. I love them dearly. Goodbye, my love. Thank you for all you did for me and Em.

“My love, Bernie x and Emily x.”

Poison information

The jury also heard from Elaine Donohue of the National Poisons Information Centre. She took a call from a woman identifying herself as Dr Scully from Tullamore just before 2pm that day.

“She was enquiring about a patient, who had taken a number of Prothiaden tablets,” she said. “She asked for the lethal dose.”

Ms Donohue said she informed her that they wouldn’t usually give that dose, but could give the therapeutic dose and asked about the patient.

The caller said it was an adult female, who had taken 15 75-mg tablets.

“I told her that would far exceed the toxic dose,” she testified. “She said it had been taken four hours ago, but she was still asymptomatic.” Ms Donohue advised the caller to have the person assessed in hospital with an ECG.

Kenneth Fogarty SC, defending, asked that the recording of the call be played in court.

Ms Donohue could be heard telling the caller that anything more than four tablets would be toxic.

“It’s unusual,” she said when told the patient was asymptomatic.

999 call

The jury was then told that the 999 call made by Scully’s partner around 9pm would also be played.  Andrius Kozlovskis had given evidence on Wednesday of finding Emily cold in her bed and being unable to wake her mother.

“Oh, Jesus,” he could be heard saying, after requesting two ambulances quickly. “Oh, please.  I think the child is…I think she took too many sleeping tablets,” he said.

“The girl, I think she’s…Bernie, Bernie, Bernie. Oh, Jesus, please.”

He was asked if he was beside them.

“I’m beside Bernie,” he replied. “I think Emily’s dead.”

He was told to go to Emily and was being given directions about what to do when the ambulance arrived. The jury had already heard from the paramedics, who took over at that stage.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of seven women and five men.

Comments have been turned off due to ongoing legal proceedings

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About the author:

Natasha Reid

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