A woman on trial for the manslaughter of her profoundly disabled daughter told gardaí she gave her child too much sedative because she was exhausted and panicked when the 11-year-old suffered a severe convulsion.
Bernadette Scully, 58, of Emvale, Bachelor's Walk, Tullamore in Co Offaly has denied the manslaughter of Emily Barut by an act of gross negligence.
The prosecution alleges she gave toxic amounts of the sedative chloral hydrate on 15 September 2012.
Five days after her daughter's death she gave a voluntary statement to gardaí in which she told them she was "a demented mother with a screaming child" who was trying to do her best.
She believed a severe convulsion had killed her daughter but accepted the sedative may have contributed.
However, she said she had worked for years to keep her daughter well and would never have done anything to harm her.
She described how Emily's condition meant she was in constant pain and screaming. Caring for her daughter was a gruelling routine but she had done it willingly as others could not look after her as well as she could.
She had woken several times during the night and was screaming in pain every time she opened her eyes.
She had given her the sedative at 2am and at 6am to calm her. Dr Scully said she was "exhausted and panicked" when she gave a third dose of the sedative to her daughter later that morning in an effort to stop a severe seizure.
She said she had never seen a seizure like it before.
After the third dose she said Emily stopped breathing. She told gardaí: "I know I gave her more than I should have. I shook her and I thought I have to die now."
"She just stopped breathing and I wanted to die myself. She was my baby and I just loved her. I turned into some other person and I wanted to die with her."
She did not call an ambulance because she was not thinking rationally.
She told gardaí she believed the convulsion had killed her daughter but the chloral hydrate could have contributed.
We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences
She would not normally give the sedative during a fit but she had never seen one like that before and it was "pandemonium".
Her mental state that week was that she was "on my last legs, I was in a frazzled state".
She said everything stopped after the third dose and Emily stopped breathing.
She said she wrapped her daughter in her duvet, kissed her and said: "I'm coming with you."
Dr Scully said she made a decision then to end her own life and outlined to gardaí the steps she took to attempt that.
Her partner had returned home in the meantime but she asked him to go out again because she did not want him to talk her out of it.
She pretended to him that Emily was asleep.
In the five days after Emily's death she said she did not feel like she was at peace as some suggested, she just wanted her back and missed her.
Dr Scully also outlined to gardaí the pressure she had been under to try to work as a GP and look after her daughter.
She was being pressurised to return to work; she said she had sought help from professional bodies but no one seem to understand the pressure she was under.
She said when you have a disabled child people are not queuing up to help you.
She was also left with debt from her previous marriage and did not have the luxury of giving up work.
Dr Scully had attended a counsellor who said they would try to deal with the "tired cycle" she was going through and she just "went down down down."
Trial hears accused provided 'superb' care for daughter
The trial earlier heard evidence from two pharmacists in Tullamore who dispensed medications at the centre of the case.
Eileen Maher told the trial she remembered a man coming to the pharmacy with a prescription for antidepressants and a sedative on 15 September 2012.
It was written by Dr Scully in the name of Christina Scully. Ms Maher agreed there was a high rate of fatality if an overdose of the particular antidepressant was taken.
Paddy Caraher told the court he dispensed a wide range of medication for Emily and had a close relationship with Emily and Dr Scully.
He said chloral hydrate had been dispensed twice in 2010. The therapeutic level was up to 50mg per kg he said.
He agreed this was for a normal healthy person.
He agreed the rate at which it would be metabolised would be slower in someone like Emily.
During cross examination he said a medicine could go from being licensed to unlicensed for purely economic reasons if manufacturers decided not to apply for a licence.
He agreed with Defence Counsel Ken Fogarty this did not mean it was inappropriate.
Mr Carraher became emotional as he was asked to describe the level of care provided by Dr Scully for her daughter.
He said: "The care was nothing short of superb."
Asked if he ever thought Dr Scully ever seemed at her wits’ end he said no, adding that the care she gave was "phenomenal".
One of Emily's carers has said she believed Emily's condition was worsening for the two years up to her death.
Margaret Lynch said she was having more seizures and taking longer to recover from them.
She was also getting sick more often.
Ms Lynch said Dr Scully "was such a good mother and she loved Emily".
Total amount of sedative given higher than needed
A doctor who treated Emily as a baby told the trial that other medications could interfere with the effect of chloral hydrate.
However, consultant paediatrician Dr Kevin Connolly said he would be surprised to find ten times the therapeutic level of the drug in a person's system if the correct dose had been given.
Dr Connolly said he had been contacted as an emergency case when Emily was 16 months old.
He said it was difficult to treat a child who could not communicate and was constantly crying. In such cases the sedative would be prescribed.
The maximum dose would be 10ml of the drug but in certain circumstances 20mls could be given. Beyond that would be toxic levels, he said.
Dr Connolly said he would be surprised if ten times the therapeutic levels of the drug's active ingredient would be found if the correct dose was given.
Dr Connolly was questioned about the doses Dr Scully said she gave her daughter at 2am, 6am and 11am on day she died.
He said the second dose at 6am was sooner than recommended but could be given in exceptional circumstances. He said the total amount given across the three doses was significantly higher than needed to achieve sedation.
He also agreed that children with Emily's medical condition - microcephaly and severe epilepsy - were more likely than others to die as a result of a severe convulsion.