Belgian medic 'drunk during fatal caesarian on Brit mum' starts trial
Belgian medic ‘who downed vodka before fatal caesarian on British mother who had tube shoved down her oesophagus instead of her windpipe’ goes on trial for manslaughter in France
- Expat Xynthia Hawke, 28, from Somerset, died shortly after giving birth to her baby son Isaac at hospital near Bayonne southwest France, in September 2014
- Anaesthetist Helga Wauters, 53, pushed tube down oesophagus instead of her windpipe and failed to realise the error despite the mother vomiting and crying
- Ms Hawke’s partner Yannick Balthazar, who has been bringing up their baby, her sister Iris and parents Clare and Fraser arrived at court in Pau on Thursday
A Belgian anaesthetist accused of downing drinks before a fatal caesarian on a British mother has gone on trial in France.
Expat Xynthia Hawke, 28, from Somerset, died shortly after giving birth to her baby son Isaac at the Orthez maternity hospital in southwest France, in September 2014.
Ms Hawke went into cardiac arrest after Helga Wauters, 53, pushed a tube down her oesophagus instead of her windpipe and failed to realise the error despite the mother vomiting and crying in agony.
Her baby Isaac survived and is being raised by her bereaved French partner, Yannick Balthazar.
Xynthia Hawke’s sister Iris, 36, (right), mother Clare and father Fraser arrive at the courthouse in Pau on Thursday
Helga Wauters, 53, (sitting in the courtroom in Pau today) pushed a tube down Ms Hawke’s oesophagus instead of her windpipe and failed to realise the error despite the mother vomiting and crying in agony
Expat Xynthia Hawke, 28, from Somerset, died shortly after giving birth to son Isaac in September 2014. Her partner Yannick Balthazar (pictured with Ms Hawke) is bringing him up
Late Xynthia Hawke’s partner and father of their child, Yannick Balthazar, sits in the courtroom in Pau on October 8
Ms Hawke died four days after Isaac’s birth, having never regained consciousness after she was starved of oxygen and fell into a coma.
Ms Hawke’s partner, Mr Balthazar, her sister Iris, 36, and her parents Fraser and Clare arrived at the court in Pau on Thursday to watch Wauters stand trial.
Wauters has previously admitted having a ‘pathological problem with alcohol’ and carrying a bottle of vodka mixed with water in her pocket.
During Ms Hawke’s caesarean, Wauters administered the first dose of anaesthetic and then left to drink with her friends.
When she returned, colleagues said she smelled of alcohol.
Wauters was working despite difficulties with ‘expression, comprehension and reactivity’, according to a local prosecutor.
When questioned on the day Ms Hawke died, Wauters was found to have 216 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood – the equivalent of four bottles of wine.
Late Xynthia Hawke’s partner Yannick Balthazar, sister Iris , mother Clare and father Fraser sitting the courtroom in Pau before the trial on Thursday
Late Xynthia Hawke’s sister Iris (left) and mother Clare speak in the courtroom in Pau on October 8
Belgian anaesthetist Helga Wauters (right) arrives with her lawyer Antoine Vey (left) at the courthosue in Pau
Belgian anaesthetist Helga Wauters (right) talks to her lawyer Antoine Vey (left) at the courthouse in Pau
Staff said she was slurring her words to the extent that she ‘could not be understood and she did not seem to understand what people were saying’, a source added.
Pictures show her beaming during her travels through France
Wauters told investigators she was not drunk and was at least ’70 per cent capable’ and also blamed the tragedy on faulty medical equipment.
Prosecutors in France allege that Wauters was sacked by a Belgian hospital in 2013 over an error made during a caesarean because of drinking, The Telegraph reported.
She was sacked by another hospital a year later when colleagues claimed they could smell alcohol on her while an epidural was administered.
In July 2015, 10 months after Ms Hawke’s death, Wauters was stopped for drink-driving. She told officers that she often drank several glasses of spirits in a day.
The maternity clinic and gynaecologist were initially charged over Ms Hawke’s death but those cases have since been dropped.
Wauters faces a maximum of three years imprisonment if convicted of manslaughter and a fine of up to €75,000 (£68,000).
Holiday photos show Ms Hawke beaming on her travels through Europe
Helga Wauters faces up to three years in jail if convicted and a fine of £68,000
Ms Hawke grew up in North Petherton, Somerset, where she excelled at her comprehensive, Haygrove School, and won a prize for outstanding achievement in GCSE French.
She holidayed in France with her parents Fraser and Clare and her older sister Iris before moving to Paris to study at the University of London Institute.
Ms Hawke, who worked as a recruiter for businesses looking for multilingual employees, updated friends on her pregnancy using social media.
Holiday photos show her beaming during her travels through France. In one, she smiles widely in front of a setting sun with a fan cooling her face.
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