Doctor refuses to help police in manslaughter case against midwives

Doctor refuses to help police in manslaughter case against midwives

A doctor who has refused to help investigating police might be ordered to give evidence in the court case against two midwives charged over the death of a Melbourne mother following a home birth.

Melbourne Magistrates Court heard on Monday police were still waiting to take a statement from a doctor who examined Caroline Lovell in the months before she opted to give birth at her Watsonia home in January 2012.

Caroline Lovell died following a home birth in 2012.Credit:Penny Stephens

Ms Lovell, 36, gave birth to a healthy baby girl on January 23, 2012 but suffered major blood loss and died early the next morning in hospital.

The midwives who oversaw the home birth, Gaye Demanuele and Melody Bourne, were last year charged with manslaughter and police allege they negligently failed to adequate provide care to Ms Lovell.

Ms Demanuele, 59, and Ms Bourne, 44, watched video links on Monday as prosecutor Phillip Raimondo told the court that a doctor had refused to give a statement to police and was not returning a detective's phone calls.

Mr Raimondo said proseuctors might apply to have the doctor compelled to give evidence to the court as a reluctant witness.

Gaye Demanuele.

More than 30 witnesses are to be called during a 10-day committal hearing for Ms Demanuele and Ms Bourne. The hearing, due to start on September 2, will determine whether the two women should stand trial.

Defence lawyers said it was their preference most of the witnesses attend court in person rather than give evidence via video link to an online hearing.

Magistrate Marita Altman agreed to the request and said online hearings could be a "nightmare" if hampered by technology problems.

Ms Lovell suffered major blood loss while in a birthing pool after giving birth and fell unconscious when she got out of the pool.

Coroner Peter White in 2016 found Ms Lovell's death was preventable as she didn't have her blood pressure or pulse checked after giving birth and was left in the pool in a darkened room for about an hour.

Mr White found Ms Demanuele and Ms Bourne also failed to call an ambulance when Ms Lovell first fell unconscious and later when she begged for that to be done.

He also found that the midwives failed to obtain Ms Lovell's medical history before the home birth.

Ms Lovell suffered a postpartum haemorrhage when giving birth to her first daughter in hospital two years earlier, which the coroner found should have been a red flag for the midwives at the home birth.

Police in August charged Ms Demanuele, of Preston, and Ms Bourne, of Mullumbimby in northern NSW, with one count each of manslaughter.

Ms Altman on Monday extended the pair's bail until the committal hearing.

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