Kay Gilderdale trial: closing speeches

January 23, 2010

From the Daily Telegraph, 23 January 2010. (Story by Caroline Gammell)

A mother, Kay Gilderdale, accused of murdering her chronically ill daughter Lynn after a failed suicide bid begged her not to kill herself and spent 30 hours trying to ease her pain, a court heard.

Mrs Gilderdale had remained hopeful for the 17 years of her daughter's struggle with ME that she might get better.

When the 31-year-old finally asked her to help her end her life in December 2008, Mrs Gilderdale spent an hour trying to persuade her that “now was not the right time”.

She eventually agreed to give her two large doses of morphine which Miss Gilderdale self-injected, Lewes Crown Court was told.

When the “profoundly ill” woman did not die straight away, her mother gave her sleeping pills and anti-depressants because “her breathing was irregular and distressed”.

John Price QC, summing up the defence case, said Mrs Gilderdale’s only interest was that of her daughter’s welfare.

“That she took action in response to her daughter is not without dispute,” he said. “But to do what? To kill or to calm? To cause the passing or simply to ease it?”

Mrs Gilderdale , 55, of Stonegate, East Sussex, has admitted aiding and abetting her daughter’s suicide but is on trial for attempted murder, which she denies.

Mr Price said the prosecution case that his client had determined to kill her daughter after the suicide bid did not work was flawed by the fact she had provided palliative care.

“Where is the logic of trying to kill her on the Wednesday morning and administer palliative treatment on the Thursday?” he asked the six woman six man jury.

At one stage Mrs Gilderdale thought her daughter may even recover from the suicide attempt, the court heard.

Mr Price said she started administering her daughter’s “usual medication” almost 24 hours after Miss Gilderdale had injected herself with the two injections of morphine.

“It is almost as if she allowed herself to begin to hope that her daughter may live; by giving her her usual medicine, she stopping her from feeling sick, provided care for her,” he said.

Mr Price said there was a “very powerful emotive element” of the case, but that Miss Gilderdale had made clear her intentions to end her life by making a living will and telling her parents she no longer wanted to live.

“She was expressing not merely a wish to die, but to die by her own hand. This wish was clear, genuine, formally, legally and repeatedly expressed.”

Earlier, Sally Howes QC, for the prosecution, said the jury had to put their emotions to one side.

“The law does not ask for your sympathy, your sorrow, your anger or your outrage,” she said.

“It is not for you to judge the motives or the morals of Kay Gilderdale – to take a life is again the law.

“To call it a mercy killing does not make it lawful. No matter how caring , how loving and how devoted that act may be.”

Miss Howes said it was the prosecution’s case that Mrs Gilderdale had given her daughter sleeping pills, anti-depressants and injected three syringes full of air as she lay unconscious in the family home.

“What started as an attempt to assist the suicide of her profoundly ill daughter went horribly wrong,” the barrister said.

“It turned into an attempt to murder, to take her life unlawfully.

“Kay Gilderdale was aware of the fact that Lynette did not want to be resuscitated and so she knew she had to finish the job that her daughter had started.”

The case continues.



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