Tuesday 20 February 2018

Danny Talbot's sister to issue High Court proceedings against the State

Danny Talbot who died while in care. Picture: Arthur Carron
Danny Talbot who died while in care. Picture: Arthur Carron
Eight-year-old Danny Talbot's First Holy Communion photograph

Gareth Naughton

The sister of Danny Talbot, a teenager who died while in HSE aftercare, is to issue High Court proceedings against the State seeking a judicial inquiry into his death.

Legal representatives for Maria MacRae told Dublin Coroner’s Court they will issue proceedings in the coming days having received no response to their request for an independent judicial investigation.

The request was first made in a letter to Tusla - the Child and Family Agency - in September last year.

It is understood the Ministers for Children and Youth Affairs and Health, the HSE, Tusla, Ireland and the Attorney General will be named as co-defendants.

Danny (19) was found dead at a flat on Berkeley Street, Dublin 7 on August 4, 2009. Last year Tusla apologised and acknowledged “considerable shortcomings” in his care following a report by the National Review Panel.

At the inquest into Danny’s death, counsel Breffni Gordon BL told the Dublin coroner the HSE have “done absolutely nothing” on foot of the family’s request for a judicial investigation. 

“Their behaviour is suggesting to the family in this case that the HSE are dealing with the situation as if the late Mr Talbot was a person of absolutely no consequence, that his life was of no consequence,” he said.

The HSE were not represented in court.

The inquest heard Danny died as a result of the combined toxic effects of methadone, benzodiazepines and cannabis.

In a deposition read into the record at Dublin Coroner’s Court, his aunt Sandra Lambe said there were early concerns about how his father Paddy Talbot, who had a history of mental health issues, was caring for Danny and his younger brother.

At six-years-old Danny went to school with what he said were “love bites” on his neck and he displayed “inappropriate knowledge of sexual activity”, the court heard. The school principal brought this to the attention of the Eastern Health Board but never heard back.

When Paddy Talbot was found dead by nine-year-old Danny at his flat in North William Street in November 1999, the Lambes discovered they had been living in “squalor”. The flat was covered in excrement with a large stack of pornography found in the bedroom. Both boys were wearing “filthy” clothing. Ms Lambe said both were “feral” but Danny was harder to control. “He was wild and traumatised,” she stated.

Danny went to live in foster care with family friends David and Anne Flood. Ms Flood gave evidence that she identified his body to gardaí after his death.

Ms Lambe said the Floods found Danny’s behaviour very difficult but received “very little social work support”. He grew “more and more aggressive, angry and uncontrollable” and by 2007 his foster placement had completely broken down. He was self-harming and taking drugs, she said. He was housed in emergency homeless accommodation and spent time in prison. In July 2009 he was released from prison to a homeless service for drug users and within days was back on drugs, she said.

He “never stood a chance”, Ms Lambe said. “Danny was let down by the State. He should have been protected from harm much earlier in his childhood,” she said. 

The inquest heard from David Brown that he met Danny, who was homeless, two days before he died and offered to let him stay at his flat for a few nights. Mr Brown said he woke up on the morning of August 4, 2009 to find Danny with froth on his mouth and unresponsive. He immediately called an ambulance and when he checked for a pulse, there was none.

The inquest was adjourned for further mention on March 25.

Online Editors

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