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Father of tragic Dublin schoolgirl took his own life, court rules

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Paul with his late daughter, Lynsey, who fell from a cruise-ship balcony while on a family holiday in 2006.

Paul with his late daughter, Lynsey, who fell from a cruise-ship balcony while on a family holiday in 2006.

Paul with his late daughter, Lynsey, who fell from a cruise-ship balcony while on a family holiday in 2006.

The father of a Dublin schoolgirl who fell to her death from a cruise ship tragically took his own life, an inquest has heard.

Paul O’Brien (49) from Bushy Park House in Terenure, south Dublin, was found hanging at a factory he co-owned at the Clondalkin Industrial Estate in Dublin 10 on July 8 last year. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Tallaght Hospital.

Mr O’Brien was the father of Lynsey O’Brien (15) who fell to her death from the Costa Magica cruise ship sailing out of Fort Lauderdale in Florida in January 2006 during a family holiday to the Caribbean. She had been served at least 10 alcoholic drinks with a friend in the hours before her death. Her parents were having dinner with a group of friends and did not know she was at the bar. When they found her after dinner, they immediately complained to a senior officer and took her to her cabin. Within seconds of her parents retiring to their own cabin next door, she fell overboard. Her body was never recovered.

Following her death, Mr O’Brien campaigned for better safety on cruise ships.

At Dublin Coroner’s Court, the inquest into his death heard he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder at a young age but kept it under control from 22 years old. However, his wife Sandra O’Brien said he struggled with his mental health following Lynsey’s death and, at one stage, spent seven months in St Patrick’s Hospital.

“He had numerous suicide attempts since Lynsey’s death. This time was around the tenth time. He would normally have told someone of his intention to attempt suicide but this time he didn’t,” she said.

Mr O’Brien was found by his daughter Kelley O’Brien, who told the court that she spoke to him a number of times on the day of his death. She had been due to drop dinner over to his apartment when he rang her and told her that he was in his factory and had taken “a load of his tablets”. He asked her to collect him and said he might be asleep when she got there, she said.

However, when Ms O’Brien arrived at the factory she found him inside hanging. CCTV footage confirmed he was alone in the factory at the time. Ms O'Brien ran to a nearby gym for help and a number of people came to his aid, performing CPR until paramedics arrived. He remained unresponsive throughout and was pronounced dead on arrival at Tallaght Hospital. 

At post-mortem, the cause of death was given as hanging. The toxicology report found a small amount of alcohol in his system as well as some of his prescribed medications.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell returned a verdict of death by suicide.

Online Editors