Friday 20 September 2019

Barrister appeared 'calm and relaxed' shortly before his death, inquest hears

The Dublin Coroner's Court
The Dublin Coroner's Court

Louise Roseingrave

A NURSE who checked on a barrister shortly before he was discovered in a critical condition described his demeanor as ‘relaxed.’

The nurse was on night duty at St John of God’s Hospital in Dublin on May 24 2016.

She was caring for 48 year old crime barrister Colm O’Briain from Sandymount, Dublin 4. Mr O’Briain had been admitted earlier that day after becoming acutely stressed over a work issue that he feared would affect his future.

Previously, the inquest at Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that Mr O’Briain ‘became a different person’ after losing a case around ten days before he died.

The inquest heard from registrar Dr Emma Adams who said she did not alert consultant staff during the course of her assessment of Mr O’Briain that evening.

“There was no reason to as there was no change since (his) presentation (earlier that day),” she told Dublin Coroner’s Court.

The night nurse on duty said Mr O’Briain appeared calm that evening and was communicating in a relaxed manner. He spent time in the smoking area and in the communal area with other hospital clients. He had opted to take a sleeping pill dispensed by nursing staff at the medical station.

At around 11.30pm that night, the nurse knocked on his door and entered his room.

“I observed Mr O’Briain in bed reading a book. I entered and asked if he was okay. He made a hand gesture with eye contact. He appeared in a calm and relaxed manner,” the nurse said. She left and closed the door.

Read More: Barrister 'acutely stressed' over perceived work mistake, inquest told

Forty minutes later Mr O’Briain was found in a collapsed state by another nurse conducting observational checks. She called to colleagues at the nurses station approximately 20 feet away for help. Staff began chest compressions and emergency services were called.

Emergency services arrived at 12.20pm and Mr O’Briain was transferred to St Vincent’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 1.21am on May 25 2016.

The inquest previously heard that Mr O’Briain told doctors that he’d make a mistake at work and was fearful his client would take legal action against him. He was fearful about the outcome this may have on his professional and financial situation and on his family.

The inquest was adjourned after two days of evidence and is due to continue on June 22.

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