independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Kate's death subject of report for Ombudsman

Fitzgerald parents want answers over conduct of garda investigation

A GARDA report on the handling of the investigation into the death of Kate Fitzgerald, a 25-year-old media consultant who was presumed to have taken her own life, is due to be submitted to the Garda Ombudsman in the coming weeks.



The Ombudsman requested the report on foot of a complaint from Kate's parents, Tom and Sally Fitzgerald, who raised concerns about the original probe into the circumstances in which their daughter was found dead in her south Dublin apartment in August of last year.

The report, conducted by a superintendent at Pearse Street, may also be submitted as evidence in an inquest into her death, which is due to be held in February. Kate's parents were told that their daughter died by suicide. A post-mortem report on her death, which her parents received in the months afterwards, raised other factors which they now hope will be examined by the coroner.

Kate's death resonated widely through the media and on social networks after she was identified as the author of an anonymous article in the Irish Times on depression and her treatment in the workplace, which she had filed just hours before she died.

The inquest, which will seek to establish the cause of death, may request evidence from those who found her body in her Dublin apartment – the gardai and emergency services that were called to the scene. Gardai will present a report to the coroner.

Kate's father, Tom, wrote about the concerns he and Sally had in an article in this newspaper in September. Shortly after her death, they were told that she had died of a broken neck, that she had stopped taking her medication and that she had been drinking before she died.

The post-mortem report, according to Mr Fitzgerald, suggested otherwise. He wrote: "Kate did not die of a broken neck. She died slowly of a ligature strangulation. Kate had not stopped taking her medication. The medication levels were clinically spot on. Kate had not been drinking heavily. She died with the equivalent of one drink in her system."

The post-mortem report also noted that Kate's hyoid bone – a small bone in the neck – was broken.

Mr Fitzgerald wrote: "This unattached bone in the neck can only be broken by horizontal pressure. It is extremely rare in suicidal hanging and even more so with a young person."

Kate's father said that no photographs of her body were taken at the scene or at the morgue. Gardai told him this was standard procedure when foul play was not suspected.

Kate, who grew up in Bantry, Co Cork, will be remembered this weekend at a Christmas concert in Glengarrif organised by her mother's music school, the West Cork School of Voice, at which some of her favourite songs will be performed.

The concert will take place at the Eccles Hotel at 7pm next Friday and Saturday nights. The proceeds go to Ruhama, an agency that supports women affected by prostitution and sex trafficking.

Sunday Independent

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