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Mother Put Daughter To Death After She Begged For Pain To End

Bridget Kathleen Gilderdale, a loving and devoted mother,  helped her bedridden 31-year-old daughter Lynn to kill herself by giving her morphine and a cocktail of drugs, a court in East Sussex heard on Monday, reports
PTI January 20, 2010 17:36 IST
PTI

Bridget Kathleen Gilderdale, a loving and devoted mother,  helped her bedridden 31-year-old daughter Lynn to kill herself by giving her morphine and a cocktail of drugs, a court in East Sussex heard on Monday, reports The Mail, London.

Lynn, a victim of the chronic fatigue disease ME, had already taken an overdose but begged her mother Kay ‘to end her pain' because it had failed to work.

Gilderdale, 55, attempted to ‘finish the job' started by her daughter in a variety of ways over the next 30 hours, the jury was told.

She injected Lynn with morphine, crushed a variety of pills in a pestle and mortar and fed them to her through a nasal tube. She also injected three syringes of air into her daughter in the hope of stopping her heart with an air bubble. Lynn eventually died from morphine poisoning.

Gilderdale denies one charge of attempted murder but admits assisting suicide in December 2008.

Jurors were told that she could not be tried for murder as it was uncertain whether her daughter died from the overdose she gave herself, or that given by her mother. The court heard that Lynn, a once sporty, musical teenager, suffered an ‘unimaginably wretched life' in her final years.

She was paralysed from the waist down, could feed only through a nasal tube and had to communicate by sign language. In permanent agony, she received a constant supply of the painkiller morphine 24 hours through a drug pump, and had a  rubber Hickman line connected to a vein for her frequent injections.

A year before her death, she had tried unsuccessfully to kill herself, the jury was told. She also said she wanted to attend the Dignitas euthanasia clinic in Switzerland and in April 2008 signed a ‘living will' stating she must not be resuscitated.

Queen's Counsel Sally Howes, prosecuting, said Lynn was found dead in her room at the bungalow she shared with her mother in Stonegate, near Wadhurst, East Sussex.

Her death was reported by Gilderdale's former husband Richard, a former police sergeant, who no longer lived with his ex-wife but still actively cared for his daughter.

The family GP Jane Woodgate visited the house and noted Mrs Gilderdale's description of her daughter's last hours.

Miss Howes said that Gilderdale, by her own account, went into her daughter's room and found that Lynn had given herself a large dose of morphine at 1.45am on December 3, 2008.

This is a pic of  Lynn with her brother Stephen at 13, before she was struck down with ME

‘Lynn said, “I want the pain to go. I don't want to go on”,' Miss Howes told the court. ‘At about 3am Kay gave Lynn two further syringes of morphine containing 210 milligrams each. Lynn administered them to herself directly into her vein through the Hickman line.'

She became unconscious, but awoke at 3.30am and ‘appeared peaceful', Miss Howes said. ‘At about 6am, Kay felt the morphine had not achieved Lynn's aim of killing herself, so she searched the house for tablets.'

Using a pestle and mortar, Gilderdale crushed a mixture of sedative pills including Diazepam, Zopiclone and Temazepam and fed them into her daughter's nasal tube.

Lynn's breathing then became ‘laboured' and Gilderdale was worried that her daughter was in pain, so she gave her morphine through her drug pump, the court heard.

Around 24 hours later, at 2am on Thursday December 4, Gilderdale gave ‘two or three' further doses of morphine directly into the Hickman line.  She then phoned the group Exit, the group which advocates the right to suicide, ‘to receive further advice from that organisation'. After this she gave her daughter a further eight tablets of an anti-depressant, Sertraline.

She also injected three syringes of air directly into her daughter's veins to cause an ‘air embolism' – a bubble of air which could stop the flow of blood in the heart, Miss Howes said.

Giving evidence, Dr Woodgate said Mrs Gilderdale explained she gave her daughter the drugs ‘because she was frightened that Lynn would be brain damaged and not actually dead'.

Miss Howes said: ‘It is the prosecution case very simply that when Mrs Gilderdale realised that these two large doses of morphine that she provided to Lynn, that Lynn self-administered wanting to end her life, had not done the job...instead of summoning assistance, she then set about these next 30 hours performing actions designed with no intention other than terminating her daughter's life. The prosecution does not dispute for one moment the defendant was a caring, loving and most devoted mother. We do not dispute Lynn Gilderdale suffered from a profound illness with a quality of life that was almost unimaginably wretched. We do not dispute Lynn had expressed a clear desire to end her life.'

But Miss Howes told the jurors: ‘The question for you to consider is whether the actions of Kay Gilderdale fell outside the law.'