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Saturday 25 November 2017

Boy (7) killed by fall from horse after dog attack, inquest told

Patrick McCarthy
Patrick McCarthy
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THIS little boy suffered horrific brain injuries when he was thrown from a horse after the animal was attacked by four terriers.

Patrick McCarthy (7) suffered a fractured skull and bleeding to the brain, an inquest heard.

The tragic incident happened during a Saturday ride with his uncle, Ritchie McCarthy, near Spring Lane Halting Site in Cork last summer.

A Cork coroner's inquest heard Mr McCarthy had refused to allow the youngster up onto the horse on August 17, 2013, but finally relented when the boy began to cry.


Both Patrick and his uncle were riding bare back along a paved roadway into the halting site at lunchtime.

Mr McCarthy told the inquest he was exercising the horse which belonged to Patrick's grandfather, Martin.

“He [Patrick] asked could he have a go on the horse and I said ‘no'. He started crying so I felt bad for him and let him up with me,” he said.

Both the uncle and nephew were walking the horse slowly up the roadway before turning around to retrace their steps.

“As we were walking back down, four or five dogs came out. They were barking and they started to bite the back legs of the horse,” Mr McCarthy said.

The horse reared and both the uncle and nephew managed to stay on.

However, when the horse reared and bolted a second time, both were thrown onto the roadway.

Pat McCarthy, a neighbour, said the horse was perfectly calm before the dog attack.

“Patrick was trying to hold onto Ritchie...but the terriers were barking and biting the back legs of the horse. I saw them [thrown] off,” he said.

He ran to the scene and saw the four terriers barking and running excitedly. The startled horse had galloped off.

Kieran McCarthy, another of the youngster's uncles, also raced to the scene and saw the child lying unconscious in the roadway with blood pouring from his mouth and nose.

His mother, Helen, rushed her son to nearby Mercy University Hospital (MUH) in the family car but he never regained consciousness. His father, Pat Snr, was not long behind.


However, the child was pronounced dead shortly after being admitted.

Patrick, a student at St Oliver's National School, adored his family's horses, and was due to make his First Holy Communion this year.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster, who carried out a post mortem examination, found that Patrick had suffered an extensive skull fracture as well as bleeding both inside and around his brain.

Dr Bolster said the youngster would have been knocked unconscious immediately and would not have suffered.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane recorded a verdict of accidental death. “This is a tragic case and and these are the most difficult inquests that we hold...the death of a child. It is a dreadful loss,” she said.

Irish Independent

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