Friday 9 December 2016

Young father died from inhalation of toxic gas after falling into slurry pit last Christmas

Published 15/11/2016 | 16:52

Diarmuid Twomey (inset) was missing since December 21
Diarmuid Twomey (inset) was missing since December 21

A YOUNG father fell into a slurry pit and died from inhalation of toxic gases after he took a short cut home across a farmyard last Christmas.

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The revelation came as a Cork coroner’s inquest returned a verdict of accidental death for Diarmuid Twomey (31) who vanished on December 20 while walking home from a family Christmas gathering in Cork city.

Mr Twomey’s body was only discovered five weeks later on January 28 in a slurry pit in Whitechurch outside Cork city.

A post mortem examination by Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster revealed the father of two died from inhalation of hydrogen sulphide gases after entering a slurry pit.

He did not drown.

There was no sign of trauma to his body which had to be identified from dental records.

Dr Bolster said he would have died very quickly.

His partner, Ciara Byrne, had made numerous heartfelt appeals for information on his whereabouts last Christmas – but admitted she knew Diarmuid wasn’t alive when his mother died on January 6 and nothing was heard from him.

He was the carer for his elderly parents.

The young mother said she had started to fear the worst when there was no sign of Diarmuid by Christmas Eve.

“He adored his family and his little girls – it wasn’t in him not to be there for Christmas,” she said.

She had to tell her daughters that: “Daddy got lost in the dark and went to Heaven.”

Cork coroner Frank O'Connell described it as "a difficult and tragic case."

"This is a great mystery," he said.

"But I am convinced this was an accident. I think his entry into the slurry was an accident. I don't think he knew what was there....particularly in the darkness of the night."

Mr Twomey vanished after leaving a family Christmas party on December 19/20 to walk some 10km to his home in rural Carrignavar.

He had complained of feeling unwell and wanted to walk rather than take a taxi with his partner.

However, he never reached home.

Concern for his welfare mounted when his mobile phone was discovered by farmer Margaret Leader in her yard in Whitechurch the following day.

However, despite a search of adjacent fields, rivers and forests no trace of him was found.

Four motorists and taxi drivers confirmed having seen a person matching Mr Twomey's description walking on the Whitechurch Road between 3am and 5am.

Mr Twomey’s remains were eventually located on January 28 when farmer Pat McAuliffe began work to agitate a slurry pit on his lands.

The slurry pit was located on a different farm, some 400 metres away from where Mr Twomey's mobile phone was recovered on December 20.

The pit was enclosed on three sides by a high fence and wall and, to the front, by gates.

The gates were checked on December 20 by farm worker James Wycherley and were not open.

Ms Byrne said she had lost hope several weeks before the grim discovery.

Mr Twomey’s mother died on January 6 as the search for her missing son was at its height.

His father is now in a nursing home.

Hundreds of volunteers had joined with Gardai, Civil Defence and the Irish Coast Guard  in combing the Whitechurch, Carrignavar and Ballinahina countryside over five weeks for clues as to what happened to the young man.

Ms Byrne revealed she later had to tell her two daughters, Lily (5) and Katie (3), that their father had gone to Heaven.

“What happened is nothing more than a tragic accident,” she said.

“The outcome was devastating for us all especially considering where he was found.”

“As time goes on you never really forget it, you just learn to live with it. But he will be forever in our hearts and always with us.”

The Twomey family said it is a particularly difficult time at the moment as the first anniversary of the tragedy approaches.

Gardaí described Mr Twomey’s death as a tragic accident.

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