Wednesday 18 July 2018

Man died after night of binge drinking in friend's 'man-cave', inquest hears

The Dublin Coroner's Court
The Dublin Coroner's Court

Louise Roseingrave

The family of a man who died suddenly after a night out with friends said an ambulance should have arrived sooner.

 Leonard Farrell (40) attended a gathering in a friend's 'man-cave' on Saturday August 20 2016. He had just been made manager of a local underage football team.  He and his brother-in-law ate dinner before leaving the house between 7pm and 8pm, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard.

They went to a friend's house 10km away, where the man-cave was set up as a bar. There was a keg of alcohol, the court heard.

“It was set up like a full bar, we paid for our drinks. Lenny had a good bit more than I had, he was drunk,” brother-in-law Mark Ryan said.

Family members said the man’s drinking habits had become a concern.

His sister, a nurse said that he did not drink often but when he did, ‘he drank way too much.’

“He was a binge-drinker,” Martina Ryan told the court.

The pair returned home in a taxi to where they lived next door to each other in Balrothery, Balbriggan, Co Dublin sometime after 3am.

Mr Ryan said his brother-in-law was stumbling before he fell at the side of the house. His head was cut and bleeding.

An ambulance was called. When Mr Farrell stopped breathing, a second emergency call was made. The man’s sister began cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. She said the ambulance seemed to take 'a long time.'

A Dublin Fire Brigade crew from Kilbarrack was notified at 4.56am and arrived at the scene at 5.20am. Mr Farrell’s brother described this as ‘odd.’

“It’s odd that they would send someone from 20 miles away as oppose to four miles away in Balbriggan,” Larry Farrell said.

The coroner said the ambulance was dispatched initially to treat a fall with a head injury. When the man stopped breathing the priority level was elevated, the court heard.

Attempts to resuscitate Mr Farrell failed and he was pronounced dead at the scene. A post-mortem report gave the cause of death as asphyxia due to aspiration of gastric contents as a consequence of acute alcohol intoxication. A large amount of food was found compacted at the back of the throat. There was a blood alcohol level of 293 milligrams per cent.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane returned a verdict of misadventure and said the man was inebriated to the point where he was vulnerable.

“His alcohol level was so high he seems to have lost his gag reflex. If you are intoxicated you are more inclined to vomit. Tragically when he did get sick he wasn’t in a position to protect his airway,” the coroner said.

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