Friday 16 March 2018

Man (72) died 12 hours after move from care home

Áras Attracta in Co Mayo. Photo:
Áras Attracta in Co Mayo. Photo:

Darragh McDonagh

A 72-year-old man with an intellectual disability was malnourished and severely dehydrated prior to his death, an inquest has heard.

Francis 'Albert' Loughney died at Mayo University Hospital (MUH) on November 18, 2012, 12 hours after being admitted from the Áras Attracta care centre located in Swinford, Co Mayo.

The centre was the subject of an RTÉ documentary in 2014, which revealed evidence of abuse and prompted a Garda investigation that resulted in a number of staff being convicted of assault.

The inquest heard from Professor Cillian Twomey, a retired geriatrician who carried out a report on Mr Loughney's death for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who commended the care Mr Loughney received at Áras Attracta.

Concerns in relation to the death of Mr Loughney were raised by consultant pathologist Dr Tomas Nemeth after he observed evidence of "severe dehydration and malnutrition" on the body of the deceased.

"It was not usual for a patient in care and it concerned me," Dr Nemeth told Mayo Coroner's Court in Castlebar yesterday.

The pathologist identified the cause of death as sepsis due to acute bronchitis, bronchiolitis, and early bronchopneumonia with severe contributing factors of extreme dehydration and malnutrition.


However, Coroner Patrick O'Connor returned a verdict of death by natural causes after hearing evidence of a long history of issues with eating, including self-induced vomiting and paranoia about food.

Mr Loughney had been a resident at Áras Attracta since 1999. He had previously experienced physical abuse at an industrial school until the age of 16, and then lived with relatives until entering care in the 1990s.

Ann Burns, programme director at the care centre, described the deceased as a "small, thin man" who had needed encouragement in relation to eating. Mary Gallagher, clinical nurse manager at the care centre, described him as a "pleasant, anxious-looking man".

Irish Independent

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