Power has gone out in Lismore court delaying proceedings to the trial
Power has gone out in Lismore court delaying proceedings to the trial

Power goes out in Lismore court delaying proceedings

UPDATE 2.20PM: Power has gone out at the Lismore Court delaying proceedings in the committal hearing of Megan Haines.

Both defence and prosecution were waiting at the bar table for magistrate Sinclair to resume proceedings when the power went out just after 2pm.

Magistrate Sinclair just told the court power is out at both the court and Lismore police station.

Essential Energy are on the way and hope to attend to outage in 45 minutes.

Magistrate Sinclair said she hoped to resume proceedings this afternoon. 

 

UPDATE 2PM:  THE doctor who wrote the death certificates for Ballina's St Andrews Nursing Home residents Marie Darragh and Isobella Spencer has given evidence in the committal hearing of Megan Haines.

Haines is charged with two counts of murder of the deaths of the women, allegedly from doses of insulin, at the nursing home on May 10, 2014.

Ballina GP Dr Jerome Mellor told the court a nurse from St Andrews called him about 7am on the morning of May 10 to advise him of the conditions of Ms Darragh and Ms Spencer, who were both unconscious.

Dr Mellor said the nurse told him both Ms Darragh and Ms Spencer, plus a third resident, Marjorie Patterson, had all made complaints about Haines the day before.

He said the nurse told him she thought Ms Darragh had a major stroke and was going to die.

"She told me that she was unconscious, she had fixed dilated pupils, no recordable pulse and she was blue," Dr Mellor said.

The nurse told Dr Mellor that Ms Darragh was found that way in her bed during her morning rounds and she didn't know how long she had been in that state.

"As it seemed as though she was dying I would have needed consent to treat," Dr Mellor told the court.

"If they don't have the blood pressure, they are unconscious, have fixed dilated pupils and they are blue they are going to die."

Dr Mellor said death was especially the case if the person displaying these symptoms was an aged care patient.

By 9:30am on May 10, Dr Mellor said the nurse had spoken to both the families of Ms Darragh and Ms Spencer about their conditions.

He told the court both families declined resuscitation and hospital admission for their relatives.

Under cross examination by Haines' solicitor, Michael Blair, Dr Mellor was asked if more could have been done to save the women's lives.

"Did it ever occur to you someone should have picked up the phone and called triple-0," Mr Blair asked.

"I have explained to you that the families had declined resuscitation and hospitalisation to prolong their lives," Dr Mellor said.

"So that would have been an abuse of the triple-0 service."

 

INITIAL: WHEN Marie Darragh and Isobella Spencer were found unconscious in their beds at Ballina's St Andrews Nursing Home their blood glucose levels should have been checked, Lismore Local Court has heard.

Megan Jean Haines, a former nurse at the aged care facility is charged with two counts of murder over the deaths of the women on May 10, 2014.

She has pleaded not guilty to administering fatal doses of insulin to the women on the evening of May 9.

The first witness in Haines' committal hearing, clinical and forensic toxicologist, Associate Professor Naren Gunja told the court it was standard practice in hospitals to check the blood glucose levels of unconscious patients but he wasn't sure if that applied at aged care facilities.                              

"Both Darragh and Spencer should have had their BGLs checked when they were discovered unconscious on the morning of May 10," he said.

"Based on the post mortem results I have seen they both had profoundly low blood sugar levels."

Under cross examination by Haines' solicitor Michael Blair, Assc Prof Gunja told the court the age of a patient could affect the way insulin works.

"Age can have an effect because of the way the tissue behaves," he said.

"On children and the elderly insulin would work faster."

Assc Prof Gunja said symptoms of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) start happening in elderly people when their blood sugars reached a level of 5.

"Hypoglycaemic coma takes at least  30 minutes to develop after the subcutaneous administration of insulin," he said.

"Irreversible brain damage due to hypoglycaemia takes between four and six hours."

Assc Prof Gunja said if the patient was in poor health they would get to irreversible brain damage quicker.

The next witness will give evidence from 12:15pm.



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