Wednesday 13 December 2017

Grandmother died of blunt force trauma to her head

Open verdict returned at inquest into her death

Carol McAuley
Carol McAuley

Louise Roseingrave

A grandmother who Gardaí believe was assaulted at her home died due to blunt force trauma to the head.

Mother of three Carol McAuley from Ballybough Road, Dublin 3 suffered a catastrophic brain injury and died on August 21 2014.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that she died as a result of a subdural hemorrhage due to trauma to the head.

Investigating Gardai found ‘huge inconsistencies and mistruths’ among statements collected in the homicide investigation that followed her death.

Detective Inspector Francis Sweeney of Mountjoy Garda Station said there were inconsistencies in statements from those in the flat emergency services were called to on July 25 2014.

Pressed by relatives in the public gallery about what could be done about the inconsistencies, Det Insp Sweeney said, “It is highly unlikely they will change their story.”

State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy said the deceased was vulnerable because she had cirrhosis of the liver and that was a contributory factor in her death. There were a number of possible causes for the brain injury, Prof Cassidy said.

“It could have been caused by an assault, a blow to the face, she could have been gripped, grabbed or pushed. Equally, due to drinking, she could have fallen,” Prof Cassidy said. Ms McAuley had suffered a black eye, which Prof Cassidy said ‘was more likely to be due to a direct blow to the face.’

Upon her admission to hospital, she had bruising to her right eye, neck, chest, wrist and forearms, the court heard.

Ms McAuley’s partner, Joe Murphy was not present in court. In his deposition, he said on July 24 2014, he went picking periwinkles in Skerries.

“She was hanging out the washing when I left,” he said. When he returned home at 1am Ms McAuley was not there and he fell asleep on the couch,he said. He woke at 10.47am to find his partner in the spare room.

There was vomit on the pillow. Ms McAuley was rushed to the Mater Hospital, where she told staff she had been assaulted. She was operated on at Beamount Hospital but her condition did not improve and she died almost four weeks later.

Witness Deborah McCarthy said she met Ms McAuley on the street in Ballybough at 9.40pm on July 24. In her deposition she said the deceased was sober and had no visible bruising.

“I would be of the opinion that possibly she was assaulted in the house at Ballybough,” Det Insp Sweeney said.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said the causation of the blunt force trauma to the head was in question.

“It’s all going down to whatever happened on the 24/25 July. Whatever happened, the death goes back to that,” Dr Farrell said. The jury returned an open verdict. The Garda file into Ms McAuley’s death remains open.

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