A WOMAN may have been dead for more than a year before her body was found when a building society contacted her brother to say that she was behind on a debt, an inquest heard.
Mary Fox (56) was found dead in bed at her home at Cooldriona Court in Swords, Co Dublin, on July 14 last year.
Her brother Brendan Dunphy told Dublin Coroner’s Court that he had not seen his sister, who was an alcoholic and suffered from depression, for more than a year but believed that she was in the care of mental health services at the Curam Clinic in Swords during that time.
However, in a letter to the court consultant psychiatrist at the clinic Dr Declan Murray said that Ms Fox had been discharged back into the care of her GP in July 2010 having successfully completed treatment.
Her GP Dr Barry Moodley wrote to the court to say that Ms Fox had last attended his clinic to pick up a prescription on April 21, 2011. His medical card contract ended the next month, he said, and she was transferred into the care of another doctor.
Mr Dunphy said that his sister had fallen out with her family and friends. He first became aware that something was wrong when he was contacted by the building society because she was in arrears on a debt that he had gone guarantor on.
When he went to her apartment there was no answer and the chain was on the door. Someone had also recently painted the door and it was sealed shut, he said. He called gardaí and they found Ms Fox’s body. He said that the apartment was in a “horrendous” state and that on clearing out her post-box he took three bags of mail away including social welfare cheques dating back a year.
Mr Dunphy said that when his sister was being treated by the Curam Clinic, he was not given any progress reports or asked about her background. “We were given the impression they were looking after her,” he said.
Speaking from the body of the court, his wife Angela Dunphy said that they have written to the Irish Medical Organisation regarding her sister-in-law’s care.
“What I do not understand is where the back-up was from the health services. Where were the social workers? Why did they leave her into an apartment block on her own with no family and no friends,” she said.
Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said that the decomposed state of the body meant that the pathologist was unable to establish a cause of death at post-mortem.
He adjourned the inquest until November 12 to hear from the doctors involved in Ms Fox’s care.
By Gareth Naughton