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Tuesday 16 September 2014

Alcohol is a factor in many fatal assaults, says forensics expert

Georgina O'Halloran

Published 29/07/2013 | 05:00

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ALCOHOL plays a significant role in many fatal assaults that occur on the street, in licensed premises and at house parties, according to the Deputy State Pathologist Michael Curtis.

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The forensic pathologist, who has worked here for almost nine years, said that gunshot wounds accounted for just over a third of murders in the State, followed by stabbings and blunt-force trauma.

He said that alcohol played a big role in many fatal assaults and that, in some cases, both the perpetrator and the victim had been drinking.

"Some of the homicides we see reflect a very severe level of violence," said Dr Curtis.

"While that is obvious in the case of the shootings, it's also the case in many of the stabbings we do, and in many of the blunt-force trauma deaths and the assaults we do, with kickings and stamping and so on. Some of those reflect an extreme level of violence.

"Certainly with the blunt-force trauma ones – it is violence where there would have to be a sustained assault over a period of time, maybe as much as several minutes.

"We do on occasion see (cases) where someone gets the unlucky blow – they get a punch and they go back and they bang their head and they die because they banged their head – albeit they wouldn't have fallen and banged their head had they not been punched.

"But we also see cases where people have had repeated blows reigned on them with fists and feet and stamping as well as kicking," he said.

Dr Curtis said he had been struck by the number of suicides by shooting in the State since he began working here in 2004.

"It's probably the fact that it's a rural community and rural communities have firearms," he added.

Overall he said he did not think Irish society had become more violent.

"What I'm dealing with now is fewer (homicides) than in the really peak years," he added.

Irish Independent

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