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Tuesday 27 June 2017

Call to reopen 'suicide' case

Family of Irishman found dead in Germany don't believe he took his own life

Georgina O'Halloran

The grieving family of a 34-year-old Irishman found dead in his apartment in Germany last December has called on the German authorities to reopen an investigation into his death.

Matthew Fitzpatrick, an interface engineer from Portumna, Co Galway, was found dead in his apartment in Mannheim, Germany, on the morning of December 11, 2010.

The second youngest of nine children, he was due to return to Ireland for Christmas two days later.

His ex-partner Sabrina Krause made the discovery when she turned up to the apartment at 11.00am after checking out of a hotel an hour earlier, a police investigation in Germany found.

Ms Krause was found a short time later by a neighbour crying that it was all her fault. She had a knife in her hand, had taken an overdose and had to be restrained when she tried to jump out of a window, the inquest heard.

Ms Krause and Mr Fitzpatrick, who were in a relationship for eight years, separated two months earlier.

The German police took the position that the death was suicide, an inquest at Dublin County Coroner's Court heard yesterday.

But his family reject any notion that Mr Fitzpatrick took his own life. He was thinking about moving back to Ireland or the United States, his brother Daniel said.

Strangulation

His body was repatriated to Ireland on December 17, where deputy state pathologist Dr Khalid Jaber carried out a second postmortem. He found Mr Fitzpatrick's death was due to asphyxia as a result of ligature strangulation.

Giving evidence, the pathologist was unable to clarify the matter further and said suicidal strangulation, suicidal hanging and third-party strangulation were all possibilities.

A high level of alcohol was detected in Mr Fitzpatrick's blood, as well as a therapeutic level of an anti-depressants.

The 34-year-old, who worked for a company called Sanmina, was having a relationship with a married Russian woman whose husband was harassing him and ringing him up to 20 times a day, the inquest heard.

A jury recorded an open verdict after hearing the evidence.

Charging the jury, coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty advised the jury members that they should not bring in a verdict of suicide if they had any doubt.

The coroner said there was no evidence Ms Krause, who stayed in a hotel with another man the previous night, was in the apartment or that anybody else was in the apartment.

Speaking after the inquest, solicitor for the Fitzpatricks, Peter Tunney, said the family welcomed the open verdict returned by the jury and were calling on the German authorities to reopen the investigation into circumstances of Matthew's untimely and tragic death.

"Matthew's death remains a terrible and unexplained tragedy," said a statement issued by the family. "We feel that we have to persevere to establish the full picture of his death."

Irish Independent

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