Sunday 18 August 2019

Father-of-three who collapsed during violent altercation died from heart attack

Karl Holmes had bruises and scrapes on his body
Karl Holmes had bruises and scrapes on his body
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

A Dublin man who collapsed during a violent altercation in a Dublin housing estate four years ago died from a heart attack and not as a result of any physical injuries he received, an inquest has heard.

Father-of-three Karl Holmes (44) had driven to Avonbeg Gardens in Tallaght on the evening of September 3, 2015, after learning there had been an earlier altercation at his address in nearby Homelawn Drive.

Garda Brian Hurl told the inquest he received a report while on patrol of a fight at Avonbeg Gardens at 5.35pm.

When he arrived 10 minutes later, at the same time as fire brigade paramedics, he saw Mr Holmes lying on his side on the road in the recovery position, covered by a foil blanket. Paramedics began treating Mr Holmes immediately but there was no pulse and he was not breathing.

Gda Hurl travelled to Tallaght Hospital as Mr Holmes was being taken there by ambulance, and he was pronounced dead at 6.17pm.

Detective Inspector John Walsh told Dublin Coroner's Court that Holmes was not present at his home when the first altercation had occurred.

"He became aware of it and drove to the other parties' address where a dispute arose at Avonbeg Gardens involving the deceased," he said.

The altercation involved between two and five other individuals and Mr Holmes, lasting two or three minutes.

"Then he basically collapsed after getting back into his vehicle and members of the public realised he was having a heart attack and removed him," Det Insp Walsh said.

He told Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane and a jury there was a subsequent investigation.

While initially treated as a possible murder case, it was downgraded when the post mortem revealed Mr Holmes had died from a heart attack.

There were 66 lines of inquiry, five people were arrested and two people charged with violent disorder but acquitted at trial in December last year.

"Nobody was charged with death causation," Dr Cullinane told the jury.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis said the post mortem on Holmes had revealed that while there were bruises and scrapes on his body consistent with an assault, they were not of significance in relation to his death.

Mr Holmes had an enlarged heart with narrowing of two main arteries and fibrous scarring indicating a previous heart attack.

He gave the cause of death as ischemic heart attack. The jury recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.

After the inquest Mr Holmes's brother Nigel said the verdict will be welcomed by his family, including his mother Breda. His father James died from cancer last month.

"Karl didn't know he had heart disease," he said.

Mr Holmes, a former boxer, had been jailed for five years for causing grievous bodily harm to 19-year-old neighbour Thomas Weekes, who died three days after being headbutted by him in 1992 in a row as they were drinking. He served 18 months.

Irish Independent

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