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I FORGIVE THEM; But father of suicide Rose brands mercy killer pastor Exoo 'bloody liar'.

Byline: PAUL CLARKSON

THE elderly father of suicide woman Rose Toole Gilhooly yesterday forgave her mercy killers - but branded them liars.

Owen Toole, 91, called US pastor George Exoo a "bloody liar" for claiming he gave his blessing to Rose's assisted suicide.

He also angrily denied giving the controversial cleric and his gay lover Thomas McGurrin a chance to flee Ireland after Rose's death.

Exoo alleged that former banker Mr Toole had deliberately delayed telling Gardai about Rose's suicide note for three or four days so they could escape.

The heartbroken father said: "Within 10 minutes of finding the note, I contacted the police. There was a hope that she might still be alive."

Despite the pastor's allegations, the pensioner said: "I forgive him, of course."

Bank worker Rose killed herself 12 days ago in a rented flat in Donnybrook, south Dublin, as Exoo and McGurrin watched.

The 49-year-old was found dead by Gardai on January 26 having swallowed pills, tied a plastic bag round her head and inhaled lethal doses of helium.

She had suffered from severe depression for years and had promised her adopted father Owen she would never involve him in any suicide bid.

He said: "She made a pact five years ago that I would not be implicated."

The retired stockbroker from Dalkey, Co Dublin, had struggled with his daughter for years to overcome her mental anguish.

The former director of the AIB bank said: "She had lived with me for the last five years.

"The last year was hard on both of us. I tried every trick in the book to help her get better - but she had this depression."

But he said he was comforted with the thought he tried everything to help her and believes he will soon be with her in heaven.

He added: "I don't feel the slightest guilt. I'm the most relaxed man in the country.

"Rosie believed in God and so do I. I will see her in the next life."

Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that Rose desperately begged euthanasia experts across the world to help her die.

Leading suicide author Derek Humphry revealed he was one of dozens of people depressed Rose asked to plot her death. But the best-selling writer said she should never have been allowed to kill herself in the same way as terminally ill patients.

He said: "Rose Toole told me last year that she was tired of life and wanted out of it.

"She told people all over the world via internet and telephone. One could sense her desperation.

"Myself and others tried to dissuade her, talking about better medications, more counselling, to hang on hoping for better times."

The former Sunday Times reporter admitted Rose had killed herself using a method described in his book Final Exit.

Gardai are seeking to bring Americans Exoo and McGurrin to trial in Ireland for assisting her suicide.

It is believed Rose paid the pair $2,500 to fly over from West Virginia and take her through her final hours.

Rev Exoo, 59, a member of the New River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship church could face 14 years in jail for his part in the suicide.

Mr Humphry helped his cancer-stricken wife Jean take her own life in 1975 and his elderly father-in-law Arthur in 1986. He even set up his own euthanasia group The Hemlock Society, but said he could not have helped mentally ill Rose.

He added: "I believe western society is ready for lawful, medical assisted suicide for the terminally ill.

"But assisted suicide for the mentally ill, or the depressive personality like Rose, poses far different ethical, medical and legal problems. I don't think we are ready for that step."

CAPTION(S):

CLERIC: George Exoo; GRIEF: Rose's father Owen at his daughter\'s funeral last week; TRAGIC: Rose Toole Gilhooly suffered from depression
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 6, 2002
Words:640
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