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A mother was found not guilty today of attempting to murder her bed-ridden daughter by giving her morphine and a cocktail of drugs.
Bridget Kathleen Gilderdale, known as Kay, had already admitted aiding and abetting the suicide of 31-year-old Lynn Gilderdale at the family bungalow. Jurors heard she crushed up pills and fed them through her daughter's nasal
tube, handed her morphine and injected three syringes of air into her vein after she made a failed suicide bid.
Gilderdale, 55, initially tried to stop her daughter ending her life following a 17-year battle with the chronic fatigue illness ME but backed down after she said: ``I want the pain to go.''
Lewes Crown Court was told she was a loving and devoted mother to her daughter, who was struck down by ME at the age of 14 and needed round-the-clock care at her home in Stonegate, near Heathfield, East Sussex.
Miss Gilderdale, a once active, sporty and musical girl, led an ``unimaginably wretched'' life in her later years.
She was paralysed from the waist down, unable to speak, eat or drink and was fed through a tube.
Communication to her parents, who were divorced but remained supportive of her, was through a form of sign language they devised themselves. She was bed-bound, socially isolated, unable to sit up and developed suicidal
thoughts, which she published on an online forum for people suffering from illnesses.
She had attempted suicide in the past, had drafted a ``living will'', placed a Do Not Resuscitate note on her medical records and considered ending her life at Dignitas, the Swiss-based assisted suicide clinic.
In the early hours of December 3 2008, she took an overdose of morphine by injecting the pain-relieving medicine directly into her vein, according to Gilderdale's own account to the family GP, Dr Jane Woodgate, on the morning of the death.
When she realised that the dosage was not high enough, Miss Gilderdale called out to her mother, who then spent around an hour trying to persuade her not to press ahead with killing herself. But after telling her mother that she wanted the ``pain to go'' and that she did not want to go on, she set about, over the course of 30 hours, helping her
end her life, the trial heard.
Gilderdale handed her two syringes of morphine, consisting of 210mg each, which her daughter administered herself through her Hickman line directly into her vein. Hours later, at about 6am, Gilderdale felt that the morphine had not achieved her daughter's aim of killing herself and searched the house for tablets, fearing that she would be brain-damaged. These pills, including Diazepam, Zopiclone and Temazepam, were crushed using a pestle and mortar and then inserted into her daughter's nasogastric tube.
Evidence from Sussex Police found that during the period until her death, Gilderdale trawled the internet for details on drug overdoses and euthanasia. Following ``two or three'' more doses of morphine, three syringes of air were
pumped into her Hickman line with the intention of causing air embolisms, it was alleged.
Miss Gilderdale died at 7.10am on December 4, with only her mother present. A post-mortem examination at the Conquest Hospital in Hastings found the cause of death was morphine toxicity.
Gilderdale's ex-husband, Richard Gilderdale, told the court he discovered his daughter had died after he received a text message from his former wife, saying: ``Please can you come now. Be careful. Don't rush.'' When he received the message, he knew what had happened, he told the court.
He said he could never imagine his ex-wife trying to kill their daughter, saying she gave up work without regret and rarely took a holiday. Describing Gilderdale's reaction to the death, he said: ``Her world had come to an end, she was crestfallen, heartbroken - everything you could describe about somebody who had been to hell and back.''
Miss Gilderdale had attempted to kill herself before in mid-2007 with a morphine overdose, but her father walked into her bedroom to find her sleepy. Retired Sussex Police officer Mr Gilderdale said Gilderdale, whom he divorced in around 2001, remained positive that she would get better, although he privately thought otherwise.
Despite their marriage split, they remained actively supportive of their daughter. His voice breaking with emotion, Mr Gilderdale told the court: ``We have always stood side by side for Lynn and we continued right to the very end.''
Throughout the trial, Gilderdale was supported by a large number of family and friends, including her son Steve and her former husband. She declined to give evidence. Jurors were told that she could not be tried for murder as it was uncertain whether her daughter died from the overdose she gave herself or from that given by her mother.
Mrs Gilderdale admitted aiding and abetting suicide; she's been given a 12 month conditional discharge