Sunday 24 September 2017

Family's other son died after being detained by gardai

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

THE gangland-style killing of a young man in Tipperary is the second tragedy to afflict the Rossiter family.

Ten years ago schoolboy Brian Rossiter -- a brother of convicted drug dealer Shane Rossiter, who was shot dead in Golden -- died three days after being found unconscious in a cell at Clonmel garda station.

The 14-year-old had been arrested by gardai the previous night for an alleged public order offence.

When his father Pat Rossiter was called to Clonmel garda station on September 10, 2002, he was told his teenage son was under the influence of drink and drugs.

Mr Rossiter consented to his son being detained in custody overnight, believing that the detention would do him no harm. Three days later, Brian lay dead at Cork University Hospital.

The teenager's family believed he had been assaulted in garda custody, a claim consistently denied by gardai.

There were also claims his death was linked to an attack by an older local man in the early hours of Monday September 9, 2002 -- before Brian's arrest.

The man approached Rossiter and accused him of speaking badly about his brother, before head-butting the boy several times.

Under pressure from the Rossiter family, former Justice Minister Michael McDowell launched a statutory inquiry, led by senior counsel Hugh Hartnett, in 2005 into the death. The subsequent report has never been published in full.

Mr Hartnett found it was "statistically more likely" that Rossiter was fatally injured in garda custody, but that the medical evidence did not establish this.

The lawyer found that the detention of Rossiter at Clonmel garda station was "unlawful" and that no proper garda investigation was conducted into whether the teenager had been assaulted in custody. At the inquest into Brian's death, senior medical experts disagreed on when the schoolboy received the fatal head injury that killed him.

A gruelling six-year legal battle by the Rossiter family, who sued over their son's death, came to an end four years ago when they received €200,000, plus costs, in settlement of their claim against the State for alleged wrongful death.

The settlement was made without any admission of liability.

The State, which accepted the circumstances of Brian Rossiter's death were not properly investigated at the time, denied he was assaulted by gardai and specifically denied his head injuries were caused by officers.

Irish Independent

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