Wildlife volunteer allegedly used drug for euthanising animals on mother

A New South Wales woman accused of murdering her mother in 2018 has been comforted by her husband while leaving a Supreme Court in Goulburn today.

The 69-year-old is on trial for allegedly killing her mother Dr Mary White at a Southern Highlands nursing home nearly three years ago.

Today the court heard, on August 5, 2018, while feeding her bedridden mother dinner, Barbara Eckersley allegedly drugged her with a narcotic sedative, called Pentobarbitone.

READ MORE: Daughter of scientist Dr Mary White to face murder trial

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Acclaimed Australian scientist Dr Mary White.

Prosecutors allege Ms Eckersley, who had been a wildlife volunteer in Canberra 20 years earlier was familiar with the drug, having used it to euthanise animals from time-to-time.

The court was told the amount found in Dr White’s system was considered “toxic to fatal”.

When charged three days later, Eckersley allegedly told police “I contributed to my mother’s death.”

This was on the same day, the 69-year-old allegedly told her husband she had put Pentobarbitone in her mother’s food.

“I was totally shocked and confused,” Richard Eckersley told the court when called as the first witness.

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Barbara Eckersley is on trial for the murder of her mother.

“She was saying there was no end in sight, and she couldn’t do it anymore.”

Mr Eckersley broke down in the witness box.

“I find this very hard to talk about,” he said when asked about when his mother-in-law passed away.

“She became unresponsive. I was shaking Mary, saying ‘Mary, Mary, are you okay? You have to wake up.'”

Dr White was a well-known scientist who was named a Member of the Order of Australia in 2009 for her services to botany as a researcher.

Today the court heard, she suffered vascular dementia, was unable to speak and had to have everything done for her. 

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Daughter Barbara Eckersley and her husband outside court at a previous appearance.

Ms Eckersley’s lawyer Kieran Ginges told the court his client “had an ongoing concern the staff at Warrigal nursing home did not manage her mother’s pain, agitation and discomfort”.

She then proposed, with her siblings, to have Dr White relocated to a different facility at Coffs Harbour to be closer to other family members

She died two days before the planned transfer.

It’s alleged in court she told police she wanted to make sure her mother was not in pain during the trip to Coffs Harbour.

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The 92-year-old was found dead inside her room at a Bundanoon aged care facility in 2018.

Crown prosecutor Paul Kerr said in his opening statements to the jury that it would be “strange” if they did not feel sympathy for Ms Eckersley, describing her as a “loving, caring and compassionate” daughter.

He went on to argue that Ms Eckersley gave her mother the drugs with the intention to end her life, while the defence claimed Dr White died “independently” of her health issues.  

The court also heard, Ms Eckersley ‘s lawyer would claim she suffered major depressive disorder at the time of her mother’s death.

During the trial, the court will hear from several witnesses including family, staff at the Warrigal nursing home, police, doctors and forensic pathologists.  

The trial is expected to run for several weeks.

Source: Thanks msn.com