Friday 18 October 2019

Horrific evidence in Joel death case



TWO Wexford town paramedics have given harrowing evidence of the horrific condition of Evelyn Joel and her surroundings, when they found her close to death.

Liam O'neill and Ray Sinnott told the opening day of the trial of Ms Joel's daughter Eleanor (37) and her partner Jonathan Costen (39), of 37 Cluain Dara, Enniscorthy, that one of them had to wear a biological hazard suit, and that other medical staff also had to be called.

The defendants have pleaded not guilty to a charge of Ms Joel's unlawful killing by neglect, and also a charge of reckless endangerment.

Ms Joel was found in horrific condition at her home on New Year's Day, 2006. She died in hospital a week later. The trial is continuing at Wexford Circuit Court. A WOMAN and her partner have pleaded not guilty to the death of her mother who died after being severely malnourished and dehydrated when they appeared before Judge Gerard Griffin on the opening day of the trial at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court yesterday (Tuesday).

Thirty-seven-year-old Eleanor Joel, and her partner 39-year-old Jonathan Costen, who live at 37 Cluain Dara, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, pleaded not guilty to the unlawful killing of Evelyn Joel on January 7, 2006, by neglect causing her to die of pneumonia, complicating sepsis syndrome due to infected pressure sores due to immobilisation and due to multiple sclerosis.

They also pleaded not guilty to reckless endangerment on date unknown between December 1, 2005, and January 1, 2006, when intentionally or recklessly engaged in conduct namely the failure to ensure that Evelyn Joel received nourishment; to attend to her sanitary requirement; to attend to her lack of mobility, and/or to obtain for her timely medical attention which created a substantial risk of death or serious harm.

Mrs. Phyllis Costen, the mother of John Costen, told of having gone to the house at 37 Cluain Dara in August 2005, to wash the hair of Evelyn Joel. Describing Evelyn Joel as a stubborn woman, she told of wanting to tidy her bed after finishing her hair, but she (Evelyn) would not let her.

As regards her mobility she was able to ' hop around' and on to the bed. However, she was told, that Evelyn had multiple sclerosis.

On New Year's Day, either Jonathan or Eleanor rang her to call over to give Evelyn a wash. Having gone over, on going up to the bedroom, she saw Evelyn just lying there, when she said to Eleanor her mother was dying and to get an ambulance, after which she rang for the ambulance.

Replying to Senior Counsel, Rosario Boyle, for Eleanor Joel, the witness said that when she touched Evelyn on the face she was cold.

Liam O'Neill, an Emergency Medical Technician with Wexford Ambulance, told of arriving at the house at about 6.45p.m. on January 1, 2006.

'As I went up the stairs I got a strong odour. It got stronger as I went further up the stairs. On entering the room I found it hard to breathe. I spoke to Evelyn Joel. She just stared with her eyes. She looked very sick and did not talk a word.

'The room was filthy, very stuffy and I found it hard to breathe. She had a quilt over her. I went down stairs to get a blanket, chair and continence sheets.

'At this stage I decided we needed a second ambulance. My colleague Ray Sinnott lifted the blanket on the bed and the smell was stronger. We could not breathe. Raymond Sinnott called the ambulance control centre for a second ambulance. There were also flies in the room.

'After the second ambulance arrived, Dr. Forde, the Care Doc arrived, when I explained to him the situation. Having gone upstairs and carried out his examinations, he went down to the daughter and gave out to her.

'Evelyn Joel never spoke, never said a word, she was very sick. Her nails were brown and dirty. We brought her to Wexford General Hospital having made prior contact with casualty. On arrival at the hospital, the doctor and nurse came out, and decided to bring her directly to St. Patrick's Ward for a bath,' he said.

Ray Sinnott, an Emergency Medical Technician, told of being with Liam O'Neill. On going upstairs, he said, he pulled the duvet back, and saw lots of nappies, excrement and urine stains on mattress. ' The woman looked very thin, there was excrement in her nails, just dirty.'

He said they contacted control to see if a Public Health Nurse was available but no nurse was available. At that stage he said that he put on a suit as the environment was not very healthy. When the second ambulance arrived Michael Dixon helped him pick up nappies and excrement in the bedroom and put them in a bag.

Later they brought Evelyn Joel to Wexford Hospital. Michael Dixon said he was on duty in Gorey but when the call was received he was on duty in the ambulance in the Wexford area. On arrival at the house he saw Ray Sinnott wear a biological hazard suit.

'We had just arrived when Dr. Forde arrived at the house. When we went upstairs the room was in disarray. The first thing to hit us was the smell. The woman's hands were dirty and there was also dishes there with food on them. Before moving to clean the woman we put sheets and nappies into the bags,' he added.

Ms Mary M. Kelly, Staff Nurse at Wexford General Hospital, told the trial that Dr. Maurice Fitzgerald had received a telephone call from Dr. Forde, after which he relayed the contents of the call to her.

'I contacted Carmel Watchorn in St. Patrick's Ward telling her what Dr. Fitzgerald had relayed to me. I met the ambulance and met both Liam O'Neill and Ray Sinnott. Liam asked me to come and have a look. When the door of the ambulance opened there was a really bad odour. I stepped into the ambulance and saw the woman who seemed very frail.

'Within a few minutes of assessing her I removed the three blankets which she was wrapped in. I went to get Carmel and Dr. Fitzgerald. Due to the infection risk we tried to isolate her from the other patients, with Carmel organising a bathroom.

'When I returned to the bathroom after the woman had been cleaned the bath appeared to me like a dirty river.'

Ms Carmel Watchorn told of the woman appearing quite fragile, her hair being quite knotted, and being pale.

Ms Deirdre Byrne, Casualty Nurse at Wexford General Hospital, said on going to the bathroom she found Mrs. Joel being supported by Carmel Watchorn as she was not able to hold herself up as she was very weak. 'I could not see her body as the bath water was all brown. I helped to hold her up and shower her down. At this stage I could see there were sores all over her body, the most visible being on her thighs. Her skin was completely broken down and there was a nasty smell which I associated with pressure sores. '

Care Assistant with Wexford General Hospital, Ms Paula Malone, told of the woman being put in a bath. 'Her body was thin and you could see her bones. Her hands were filthy and nails black. After being showered down one could see the marks on her hips and cuts between her legs while her teeth were dirty. In the bathroom there was a horrible smell, a horrendous smell,' she said.

The trial continues today and is expected to last three weeks.

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