Saturday 24 February 2018

Open verdict returned at inquest of actor Gerry McCann

Body of 47-year-old was found washed up on Dublin beach

Gerry McCann
Gerry McCann

Gareth Naughton

An open verdict has been returned at the inquest into the death of actor Gerry McCann whose body was found on a Dublin beach.

The 47-year-old father-of-two from Brookstone Road in Baldoyle, Dublin 13, was found washed up on Dollymount Strand on October 1, 2013, five days after he went missing from St John of God Hospital in Stillorgan where he was being treated for anxiety.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard he had been an inpatient at St John of God since September 11 having previously been an outpatient. Consultant psychiatrist Dr Cian Denihan said Mr McCann had a 20-year history of anxiety.

He suffered from stage fright and had successfully changed career from actor to safety instructor as a result.

He was admitted to the hospital on a voluntary basis following an incident where he went to Howth and stood for an hour at a cliff-edge. Dr Denihan said Mr McCann told him he was not planning to jump off the cliff but was thinking about death.

“He was absolutely crystal clear with me that he didn’t have any plans to act on these thoughts,” he told the inquest. He was engaging with his treatment, he said.

Mr McCann was last seen on his ward at 9.20am on September 26 when he told staff he was going to occupational therapy. They became concerned when he did not return for lunch and contacted his wife Andrea Ryder-McCann.

Read more: Family confirm ‘wonderful’ Gerry McCann ‘is in heaven now’

Her last contact with him was via text message at 10.25am when he told her he had slept well and wished her well for the day. She attempted to call him an hour later but the call went straight to message minder. She told the inquest she was already concerned when contacted by St John of God staff because he had not returned this call.

The family and Gardaí searched for the former Fair City actor in the intervening days with Ms Ryder-McCann going on Liveline and his Life’s a Breeze co-star Pat Shortt making a public appeal to him to get in contact.

The body was found on October 1 by Brendan Coyle as he walked on the beach. Mr McCann was wearing only socks and boots. Sergeant Basil Grimes said his clothing was not recovered but told coroner Dr Brian Farrell that he was aware that clothes can sometimes be removed by wave action.

Ms Ryder-McCann recognised his wedding ring. Identity was confirmed using dental records by specialist oral surgeon Dr Mary Clarke.

The cause of death was drowning.

Dr Farrell said there was no evidence about where Mr McCann entered into the water. “There is no evidence of any suspicious circumstances but in reality we do not know what happened,” he said, adding there is nothing indicating third party involvement.

Speaking from the body of the court Ms Ryder-McCann said her husband loved swimming in the sea and had even done so an hour before their wedding.

“He very much loved the sea, the look of it, the smell of it, the scent of it and he often went in whenever he could to clear his mind and keep him refreshed,” she said.

The jury returned an open verdict.

Online Editors

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