The West

Woman slept for 36 hours before death
Tamarra Donnelly and Aaryn Donnelly with a photo of their mother. Picture: Guy Magowan/The West Australian

The daughter of a woman who died after falling unconscious while sleeping off a migraine claims her mother should never have been left for so long before her husband called for help.

Outside the Coroner’s Court today where her mother Linda Mulvaney’s death is being investigated at an inquest, Tamarra Donnelly denied the 54-year-old Armadale woman had a prescription drug problem.

Ms Donnelly said she feared the coronial inquest would fail to give her and her family all the answers they wanted.

Deputy State Coroner Evelyn Vicker has been told Mrs Mulvaney suffered from severe migraines and took a variety of prescription medication and used cannabis to help her sleep and alleviate her pain.

Her husband Tony Mulvaney testified she had been sleeping for more than 36 hours straight on the couch in June 2008 when he realised her breathing was laboured and he called for help.

The grandmother died about two weeks later in hospital after her life support was switched off.

Mr Mulvaney said he left his wife sleeping for so long because she was pain-free when she slept and thought that was best for her.

He said he had no idea what prescription drugs his wife, who was his carer and controlled both of their medication use, was taking. He said from time to time she would tell him she had taken some of his painkillers.

Mr Mulvaney admitted it was “weird” that he asked about how much an ambulance would cost when he called the healthdirect hotline after noticing his wife’s breathing difficulties, but that he wanted to follow his wife’s wishes and have her taken to either Fremantle or Royal Perth Hospital, not Armadale hospital which was closest.

Mr Mulvaney said he filmed his wife sleeping on the couch, but could not remember exactly when, in order to show her what she was like during a migraine.

Outside court, Ms Donnelly said she did not believe her stepfather’s evidence and that there must have been alarm bells ringing for him about her mother’s condition and the need to get help.

“If she wasn’t left (for two days) she’d still be here,” she said.

Mrs Mulvaney died from multi-organ failure caused by a lack of oxygen.

Toxicology expert Prof. David Joyce today gave evidence that the most plausible explanation for Mrs Mulvaney’s death was an overdose of sedating drugs.

The West Australian

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