Family seeking death certificate for tragic mum's unborn baby
‘One of the worst cases I have ever seen’
Published 26/01/2016 | 02:30
It was described by gardaí during yesterday's hearing at Clonmel Coroner's Court as "one of the worst cases ever seen".
On March 26, 2012, shortly after 10.30pm, a car driven by 17-year-old Robert Stoker from Monkstown in Cork veered on to the wrong side of the road just outside Bansha in Tipperary and ploughed into the side of a car driven by Mary Enright (28), from Dungarvan, Co Waterford, who was 34 weeks pregnant.
Mrs Enright (née Walsh) and her unborn daughter Mollie were killed, as was Mr Stoker.
Jurors agreed with the coroner Paul Morris that the verdict in the case of both adult drivers should be 'death by multi-traumatic injuries consistent with being in a road traffic accident'.
In the case of Mollie Enright, they said the cause of death was 'a lack of oxygen' due to injuries sustained by her mother in the tragic collision.
While the coroner said he was satisfied Mollie's death could be registered on a death certificate as a 'stillbirth', the Enright and Walsh families asked him not to make the ruling as they are taking a Constitutional challenge to the High Court.
They believe the cause of Mollie's death should be classified as a road traffic accident.
Mollie's grandfather and Mary's father, David Walsh, said the view of the coroner was 'disappointing' and that the family would continue its legal challenge.
"They say the Constitution protects the unborn child but in this case it has not," he added.
The coroner said: "The problem is one of interpretation. In essence, to die you have to prove you are born.
"The State's definition of a stillbirth is that the foetus has to be 24 weeks and that he or she must measure a certain weight, and in this case Mollie meets these criteria."
He said he was satisfied the separation of the unborn child from the mother, during an autopsy, can be deemed a birth under the relevant legislation.
"So it is my belief that I could issue such an instruction," he added.
"However, the Walsh and Enright families have asked that I do not do this as they are continuing their Constitutional challenge."
During the hearing, Mrs Enright's widower Patrick - who was a passenger in the car - said he felt his whole life had been taken from him.
"Two days before the crash, Mary and I had bought clothes for the baby, though we didn't know if it was going to be a boy or a girl," he said.
"Now we will never know the colour of Mollie's eyes or hear her cry," his statement said.
He continued: "Mollie will forever be wrapped in the blanket we got for her.
"All Mary ever wanted was to be a mother. Without her, life has become unbearable.
"Normal life can't continue, I can't go to the local beaches, shops or restaurants because there are reminders of her everywhere. Nothing is normal."
It was claimed that Mr Stoker's vehicle veered across the road and that Mary Enright had no time to avoid the collision.
Superintendent Patrick Dunne, who was involved in the investigation told the inquest: "It was one of the worst cases that I've ever seen."
The inquest heard Mr Stoker had taken his mother's car without asking that evening and that he had never driven unaccompanied before.
His actions were described as "totally out of character".
A Missing Persons investigation was initiated after his mother Maria reported to gardaí that he had gone and it later became the subject of a GSOC inquiry, which exonerated the officers.
A blood sample from Mr Stoker tested by the State Laboratory which showed an alcohol level far in excess of the drinking driving limit was dismissed by the coroner.
Dr Rob Landers, a consultant pathologist at the University Hospital Waterford, who carried out the autopsies, described the toxicology findings as "clinically spurious".
"The findings from the blood sample were 913mg of alcohol per 100ml of bl ood… but it would not be possible to consume that much alcohol," he said.
"Anything over 400mg would lead to death."