Young mum left in coma after brutal assault has life support switched off

Carol Corr hugs her daughter Joleen who was left in a vegetative state after being assaulted in Downpatrick in 2016
Carol Corr hugs her daughter Joleen who was left in a vegetative state after being assaulted in Downpatrick in 2016

A young mother who has been kept alive for 16 months after she was brutally assaulted in Co Down is expected to pass away in the coming days.

Joleen Corr’s family say they are devastated to lose her “all over again” after a decision was made in court to end the round-the-clock care that was keeping her alive, though they say it will be better for her to be free from suffering.

Joleen, 27, has been in a vegetative state since she was brutally assaulted in Downpatrick in 2016.

Yesterday, the support treatment plan which was keeping her alive was withdrawn following a court ruling, believed to be the first of its kind in Northern Ireland.

Joleen, a beauty therapist and mother of one from west Belfast, has been in a coma since suffering serious brain injuries in an attack at a house in Thomas Russell Park in Downpatrick in December 2016.

She received specialist care in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for six months before being transferred to Musgrave Park Hospital in the city.

Now residing at the Northern Ireland Hospice, a ruling was made in court last week to withdraw her life support due to the pain she was suffering.

Yesterday medical staff were directed to withdraw all food and fluids and it is expected that she will pass away within around 10 to 14 days.

Her mother Carol Corr has been at her daughter’s bedside every day since she was taken to hospital following the assault, barely recognisable due to her injuries.

She told the BBC: “I feel like when she was beaten up, we lost her, but now we’ve lost her all over again and this time it’s forever. My heart has been ripped out and shattered into a million pieces.

“The staff at Northern Ireland Hospice are going to keep her as comfortable as they can, but we know within the next few days we’ll be saying our goodbyes.

“It’s not fair on her to make her have to cope with this pain any longer.

“The injuries she sustained when she was beaten up have finally got too much for her.”

Carol, who has four other children – Cherie, 23, Jim, 20, Chloe, 12, and Christine, nine – said: “Joleen was the happiest, bubbliest, most loving and beautiful girl in the world.

“She was a great mum too. Everything she did was for her son, and I’m going to miss her so much.”

In relation to the attack which left Joleen in a vegetative state, one man has been charged and remains in custody.

In a court appearance in September 2017, Michael O’Connor – originally from Westrock Grove in west Belfast but whose address was given to court as Maghaberry prison – pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and grievous bodily harm.

He is understood to be an ex-partner of the victim.