Europe

Assisted suicide trial of Gail O'Rorke hears from woman's sister

Gail O'Rorke Image copyright RTE
Image caption Gail O'Rorke faces three charges

The sister of a woman who took her own life has told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court she was 100% certain the decision was her sister's own idea.

Catherine Campbell was giving evidence in the trial of Gail O'Rorke.

Ms O'Rorke, 43, of Kilclare Gardens, Tallaght, denies assisting the suicide of 51-year-old Bernadette Forde between 10 March and 6 June 2011.

Ms Campbell said her sister, Ms Forde, told her in 2010 that she was going to travel to Zurich to end her life.

She said she "could not be convinced otherwise" once she had made her decision.

She said that she and others, including Ms O'Rorke, had tried to talk to her about other options for her care.

Ms Forde died at her home in Dublin on 6 June 2011 after being denied travel to a clinic in Switzerland.

She was diagnosed in 2001 with progressive multiple sclerosis and her condition was compounded by a car accident in 2008 that left her using a wheelchair.

Ireland decriminalised suicide in 1993 but the jury was told assisting a suicide remains an offence.

Ms Forde's sister said when the plan to go to Zurich was abandoned she was glad but Ms Forde was not happy.

Ms Campbell said Ms Forde later told her she had got something to end her life but did not say when she was planning to use it.

She said she did not know when her sister planned to take her own life, but had obtained some anti-sickness medication for her from a pharmacy as she had told her that her new medication for MS was making her ill.

She last saw her alive on 5 June 2011, the day before her body was found in her Dublin apartment.

Lethal amount of medication

Earlier, a consultant pathologist told the court that a lethal amount of a medication was found in blood tests carried out on the dead woman.

The court heard that the medication, a barbiturate that is no longer sold in Ireland and has limited therapeutic use, was also found in Ms Forde's apartment when her body was found.

Consultant pathologist Dr Muna Sabah said the level of the drug found in Ms Forde's tests was 53 micrograms per millilitre of blood, which is well above the lethal level.

She said this led her to conclude that the cause of death was from the depressant effects of pentobarbitol on the central nervous system.

Dr Sabah said the drug, a short acting barbiturate, is only used in limited circumstances in the US and is no longer used in Europe due to the high potential for abuse and limited therapeutic abilities.

The case is expected to last for two weeks.