Tuesday 23 January 2018

Family finally get inquest into pub death, 36 years on

Barry Duggan

THE family of a man who died violently 36 years ago yesterday began the process to finally get his death certificate.

And they want Justice Minister Alan Shatter to answer why it took so long to get an inquest held into his death.

John O'Driscoll (24) died after he was struck across the head with a pool cue by an opponent who he had been playing against in a rural Limerick pub in 1976.

After recently beginning enquiries as to why they had not received a death certificate following his killing, the O'Driscoll family were able to hear an inquest into his death yesterday.

Mr O'Driscoll -- who lived at St Patrick Villas, Castleconnell, Co Limerick -- was in Lily Sweeney's pub on the main Limerick-Dublin road on August 2, 1976.

Patrick Keane -- who was at yesterday's inquest in Limerick -- told gardai that he and Mr O'Driscoll teamed up to play doubles against other pool players.

They played a dozen games over two hours and won all before taking on Mike Coffey and Donal Ryan.

Mr Keane said before he went to the toilet, slagging had started between Mr O'Driscoll and Coffey.

When he emerged from the toilet, he saw his pool partner crouched on a seat bent forward.

The inquest heard that Coffey was crying in the pub and appeared upset.

Mr Keane said a nurse tried to resuscitate the injured man, but it was too late.

Former State Pathologist Dr John Harbison carried out a post-mortem examination on the dead man the following day at Limerick Regional Hospital. He also examined the broken pool cue.

Dr Harbison established that the cause of death was a massive brain haemorrhage from an injury behind the right ear, which was inflicted by the heavy end of a pool cue.

His findings were read out to the jury yesterday and it returned a verdict of manslaughter in accordance with medical evidence.

Mike Coffey, of Lisnagry, Co Limerick, received a two-year suspended prison sentence for Mr O'Driscoll's manslaughter in 1977.

If a person dies of unnatural causes, an inquest must be held. No inquest in front of a jury can be held until all criminal proceedings connected with the death have concluded.

It is expected that John O'Driscoll's family will now be issued with a death certificate following the conclusion of yesterday's inquest by coroner, Dr Tony Casey.

The victim's sisters, Eda and Peggy, attended yesterday's inquest with their nieces Lourda and Ciara and brother-in-law, Gerry Kennedy.

Peggy said her mother, Christine and father, Paddy, died broken hearted not knowing what had caused their son's death.

The family want Mr Shatter to explain why it took so long for an inquest into Mr O'Driscoll's death to be held.

Irish Independent

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