Nigeria strangling case not clear-cut -- inquest
THE state pathologist was unable to exclude third-party involvement in the death by strangling of an Irishman who was found in a Nigerian hotel room, an inquest has heard.
John Falvey (52), of Derheen, Thurles, Co Tipperary, was found lifeless on the floor of his room at the Sheraton Hotels and Tower complex in Lagos on April 29, 2010, at about 2.30pm.
His girlfriend Gloria Azubuike was with him at the time of his death and was taken for interrogation, according to a police report from Nigeria sent to the Dublin County Coroner.
Mr Falvey, a Lufthansa engineer who was working in Nigeria, had been staying in the hotel for about two months.
The state pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy, who carried out a post-mortem on May 17, found Mr Falvey died of ligature strangulation and that the death was consistent with a low-level hanging.
But she said she could not exclude totally that there was somebody else involved.
Giving evidence at an inquest into Mr Falvey's death at Dublin County Coroner's Court yesterday, Prof Cassidy said she found a pronounced mark across the front of Mr Falvey's neck consistent with a ligature mark.
There were no marks (on Mr Falvey's body) to suggest there was an assault or that he had been restrained or held down, Prof Cassidy said.
She said that in third-party situations there was usually more damage to the neck. There was no evidence to suggest he had struggled either. But on pathological evidence alone she could not exclude anybody else's involvement, adding that Mr Falvey could have been asleep or intoxicated.
The investigation found that Mr Falvey returned to his hotel room from the hotel club at 4.00am on April 29 with his girlfriend Ms Azubuike.
The investigation concluded that while Ms Azubuike was asleep the deceased used a lace of his shoe to tie himself to the door knob of the main entrance to the room, choking himself to death.
"While the death is in keeping with self-inflicted strangulation, there are many unanswered questions," said the coroner.
The inquest heard that Mr Falvey's family were concerned that the Nigerian police report did not include statements. The inquest heard there was also a four-hour delay in reporting the death to the police.
The family said they had no knowledge of Mr Falvey being depressed or having problems.