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Thursday 28 August 2014

Derry Clarke confirms son took his own life

'We didn't mean to mislead, we were so distraught'

LIAM COLLINS

Published 13/01/2013 | 05:00

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ANDREW Clarke, the 16-year -old son of restaurant owners Derry and Sallyanne Clarke took his own life, it has now emerged.

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His mother and father said last night "it was not our intention to mislead" and that parents, including those of his schoolmates in Clongowes Wood College where he was a boarder, "would understand our plight".

The school is now contacting parents of his classmates and close friends to update them on the situation.

Understandably, Sallyanne Clarke was too upset to talk about the way her son's death was portrayed yesterday.

However, the couple did issue a statement to the Sunday Independent when concerns were raised about the reporting of their son's death.

"For the four days our son lay in a coma we prayed and hoped for a miracle, and if he survived we didn't want him to be stigmatised by his actions in a moment of madness. We were also extremely concerned about the effect this would have on Andrew's cousins, close friends and fellow pupils.

"Sadly Andrew could not be saved and by that stage speculation as to what had befallen him had spiralled beyond our control. We issued a statement in response to press queries in which we did not comment on the nature of Andrew's death, but took the opportunity to pay tribute to him.

"It was not our intention to mislead; we were, and remain, so very distraught. We know all parents will understand our plight and we'd like to thank everyone who has supported us through these dark days from the bottom of our hearts."

Because of concerns among medical professionals about the way news of his death emerged, the Sunday Independent was made aware that Andrew took his own life and traces of opiates, cocaine and benzodiazepines were found in his system, according to toxicology reports.

Initial media reports while Andrew was on life support at Tallaght Hospital, which are believed to have come from well-meaning staff at the couple's restaurant L'Ecrivan in Dublin's Baggot Street, said that a car he was working on fell on him.

However, in a statement issued after his death on New Years Eve, Mrs Clarke said: "I found him about 1.40pm on Thursday (December 27), cold and unconscious by his car in the garage. He had bought a Volkswagen Jetta and was very busy fixing it up."

Further confusion was added when close friends of the couple expressed their understanding that he was asphyxiated while spray painting the car in the garage close to the family home in Co Dublin.

On the day of the teenager's funeral there was concern that the real story of his death had not emerged. There was a further concern that when the true circumstances emerged at the inquest it would be doubly hurtful for the school at which he was a boarder, Clongowes Wood College, and for his classmates.

"When they found a heartbeat in the ambulance and later in the intensive care unit when they believed that there was hope that Andrew might recover, they just didn't want him left with the stigma of attempting to kill himself," said an associate of the family yesterday.

It is expected that full details of the tragedy will emerge at an inquest.

Andrew's organs were donated to help save the lives of others. "Andrew was so generous and so kind-hearted, he would have wanted that," said his mother at the time.

Sunday Independent

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