Friday, April 22, 2005

Overdose Man's Wife 'Thought He Was Past Help'

Copy of a report in today's Scotsman by Wesley Johnson:

A woman who watched her reclusive husband die of a drugs overdose told police she did not call for help because he had turned blue and she thought it was too late, a court heard.

Jill Anderson, 49, had spent the previous weekend begging her husband Paul, 43, to stay alive after she had intervened in numerous previous suicide attempts, Leeds Crown Court was told.

Mr Anderson, who was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, ME, was weak, vulnerable and in constant pain when he took an overdose of morphine at their home at Westowe Cottage, Galphay, near Ripon, North Yorkshire, on July 17, 2003, and died the next day.

The jury of eight men and four women heard Anderson describe her husband’s decline from that of a translator who spoke 10 languages and ran his own business to someone who was bedridden and could not comb his hair or even make himself a cup of tea.

“That was devastating for him,” she said.

Mr Anderson had tried to commit suicide on numerous occasions, many of which had not been reported to the authorities.

Police interviews with Anderson were read to the court by Detective Constable John Bosomworth, of North Yorkshire Police, and David Perry, prosecuting.

In them, Anderson said that on the evening of July 17 her husband told her he had taken too much, but she was in two minds as to whether to believe him because he had said this before, several times.

She said that on two previous occasions, when she had called for help, he had just “slept it off” at Harrogate District Hospital.

She said: “I didn’t think it was serious because the others hadn’t been.

“He went into a deep sleep and I just thought it was such a relief to see him sleeping. I thought it was so nice because he had so many problems sleeping.”

She said Mr Anderson had woken up around 2am and had asked for his radio earpiece, so she had thought he would just sleep it off.

But when she saw that he had turned blue at between 5am and 6am, she told police she had seen a story in a newspaper about it and “knew there was no recovery”.

She said: “I saw he was still breathing so I stayed with him. His last breath was about 9am in the morning.”

The court heard she had not called the doctor until 11am.

She told police: “He was dead and I didn’t want to do anything. I had lost the thing I loved most and my best friend.

“I wanted some time on my own. I knew someone would come and then put him in a body bag and I just wanted some time on my own with him.

“He was dead. I didn’t care any more.”

She told police that his final few days had been “bad” and they had spent the whole of the previous weekend “crying together”.

“I was begging him to stay alive. We both believed he would always make a recovery,” she said.

“I didn’t want him to die, he didn’t want to die, but the pain was too much.”

She said she had been emotionally and physically exhausted after looking after him.

“I had spent all weekend trying to save his life and I was exhausted.”

She told police she did everything for him, which was devastating for him, and that: “I was on a 24-hour suicide watch really.”

She told police that, six weeks earlier, she had spent an afternoon begging her husband to stay alive, repeatedly persuading him to get out of a car which he had attached a hosepipe to in an attempt to kill himself.

The court heard a suicide note had been left at the side of the bed, but she told police there had been a “whole series” of them during recent months, and each time she had convinced him to stay alive.

“I was binning suicide notes quite regularly,” she said.

The court also heard that on the morning Mr Anderson took the overdose, his wife had helped him fill in a form to claim disability allowance and to make a list of his illnesses.

“I think he started realising the level of disease that he had. It was there in front of him in black and white. That’s what did it for him.

“He was permanently bedridden and in unrelenting pain.”

Anderson denies manslaughter.
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'It was not too late'

Accused woman could have saved dying husband at the 11th hour, says expert

Leeds news report by Rod Hopkinson april 22, 2005:

A woman who sat with her husband as he died from a drug overdose could have saved him at the 11th hour, a court heard.
Jill Anderson watched for several hours as her husband, Paul, 43, slipped into unconsciousness and turned blue before he died, it was alleged.

Mr Anderson suffered chronic fatigue syndrome and severe pain which had left him bedridden and housebound for most of his eight-year marriage, Leeds Crown Court has heard.

His 49-year-old wife has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of her husband in July, 2003, at their cottage home in Galphay, near Ripon.

On the second day of the trial the jury heard evidence from Mr Anderson's family doctor, Angus Livingstone.

The GP, questioned by Paul Worsley QC, defending, said Mr Anderson was living in the hope of something that would, at least, partially ease his constant pain.

Dr Livingstone said he went to the family home on the day Mr Anderson died.

He said: "I think (Mrs Anderson] said she didn't do anything then because she felt he had suffered enough. That is my recollection."

Prosecutor David Perry has alleged that if the defendant had dialled the emergency services for medical aid, her husband's life was likely to have been saved after he took an overdose of morphine.

Mr Perry said her failure to summon help was a gross breach of her duty.

Mr Anderson took an overdose at about 6.30 on the night before he died and by 5am the next day he had turned blue. He died between 9am and 9.30am.

Eminent medical expert Professor Alexander Forrest told the court if medical assistance had been summoned immediately he would have expected Mr Anderson to have had a "well over" 90 per cent chance of survival.

Prof Forrest was then asked by Mr Perry what would have been the likely outcome if Mr Anderson had been admitted into
hospital minutes before he stopped breathing.

He replied: "I believe better than 50 per cent – but his survival could not be guaranteed."


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