Sunday 22 April 2018

Distressed dog alerted passer-by to body of deceased man in south Dublin

Inquest heard details of an extraordinary relationship between a man and his beloved dog, Becky

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

Louise Roseingrave

A man who went to check on a dog in distress found its minder deceased on rocks nearby.

The black Labrador dog was yelping next to the man’s remains at Dun Laoghaire pier, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard. James Archibald was out running in the area early on September 21 2016 when he noticed the dog.

“I came across a black Labrador dog, it was very playful. I walked over to pet the dog, it’s coat was wringing wet. It was yelping and looking back over the railing,” Mr Archibald said.

He looked over the railing and saw what he initially thought was ‘black baggage.’ On closer inspection he discovered it was a body. As he left to cross the road to a hotel to contact emergency services, the dog returned to the body and resumed yelping.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane heard details of an extraordinary relationship between a man and his beloved dog, Becky.

The coroner noted the man had mentioned the dog in notes he wrote before taking his life.

“The notes are very affecting in that they show the great love he had for his animal and how difficult it was for him to leave her,” Dr Cullinane said.

The man had a history of mental health issues and alcohol dependence, had been clearing out his flat in the weeks leading up to his death.

His GP said the man visited every three months for his medical card prescription and collected his final prescription on May 6 2016.

“More often I saw him alone as he was anxious about leaving his dog unattended,” Dr Mark Whitty said.

A friend who regularly helped the man mind his dog said when they last spoke on the phone ‘he seemed a bit down.’ They shared dog-sitting duties and the man would often mind her dog Quilla, the witness said in her statement.

“He answered the phone and said he was out with a friend. The friend later transpired to be my dog Quilla. He sounded down and asked me to take his dog and look after her,” she said.

The woman took the man's dog Becky that night while he minded her dog Quilla. The next morning she rang the man’s phone. A Garda answered the call and informed her the man had died. A post mortem report gave the cause of death as drowning.

“I went to his apartment and left flowers at his door and lit a candle,” she said.

"One hopes he is now at peace," the coroner said, returning a verdict of suicide. The man’s dog Becky has been cared for by friends of the deceased since his death.

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