Gilderdale inquiry – from online Daily Telegraph, December 9

December 10, 2008

By Caroline Gammell and Murray Wardrop

Mother arrested over ‘mercy killing' faced with long wait

A mother arrested on suspicion of killing her daughter in a ‘mercy- killing' may have to wait four months to find out if she is charged with murder.

Kay Gilderdale, 54, was arrested less than two hours after police were called to the family bungalow in Stonegate, East Sussex, on Thursday.

Her daughter Lynn, 31, who had suffered from debilitating ME since the age of 14, died at the home which has been her hospital for 17 years.

The alarm was raised by Miss Gilderdale's father, Richard, a former Police Officer, who separated from his wife in 2002.

Sussex police are now investigating the circumstances surrounding her death, including the possibility that she may have died from a Morphine overdose.

Samples have been sent away to be analysed by toxicologists and the post-mortem examination result is not expected to be released for some time.

The results are further complicated by the fact that Miss Gilderdale lived on a complicated diet of drugs due to her illness.

Detectives are also investigating claims that the ME sufferer may have tried to commit suicide on at least two occasions in the past.

An inquest into her death was opened and adjourned at Hastings Coroners Court.

Miss Gilderdale contracted ME, also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, after suffering a reaction to a tuberculosis vaccination in 1991.

She was diagnosed with the disease in 1992 and lost the ability to speak in August of that year.

By the time she died, the once keen horse-rider was unable to walk, talk, swallow food or even hold her head up.

Her Irish born mother, a trained nurse, cared for her daughter full time and once told how her patient lived in a state of permanent ‘limbo'. Miss Gilderdale, who also has a 34 year-old son, Steven was released on bail on Friday, pending further enquiries, until March next year and may have to wait that long to discover what action is taken.

Once Sussex police have completed their enquiries, the case file will be passed to the Crime Prosecution Service (CPS) to decide if there is enough evidence to bring charges of murder or manslaughter.

The curtains at the home of Mrs Gilderdale remain closed. She was comforted by her sister, who drove over from Ireland to look after her.

Neighbours in the quiet cul-de-sac spoke of their sadness at Miss Gilderdale's death and their fondness for the family.

Pauline Lester said : "Everyone here is really upset … This is a very friendly and close area.

"I hadn't seen Lynn for some years but knew her. Kay has been an absolutely wonderful mother."

On Monday, the family paid tribute to the care given to Miss Gilderdale by her mother and told of their loss: "The love she gaveso unreservedly will be missed every minute of the day."

Mylagic Encephalomyelitis (ME) affects an estimated 250,000 people in Britain.

The suspected ‘mercy killing' of Lynn Gilderdale will reignite the right to die debate over assisted suicides.

However, Lynn's case differs from many assisted suicides because her mother has been arrested on suspicion of murder rather than aiding and abetting suicide.

Campaigners have pointed out that in cases in which relatives have taken terminally ill loved ones to foreign suicide clinics, they have been arrested under the suicide act, for helping them to die.

Under the act, those convicted face a potential maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

But Mrs Gilderdale has been arrested on suspicion of murder. If charged and convicted, she would face a mandatory life sentence.

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