Sunday 25 February 2018

Pensioner's body found by neighbour who noticed curtains were 'alive with bluebottles', inquest heard

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

Gareth Naughton

A pensioner's body was found in her bedroom after a neighbour noticed that her curtains were “alive with bluebottles”, an inquest heard.

Maureen O’Reilly (79) had been dead for up to two months before she was found at her home at College Drive, Terenure in south Dublin, on June 17 last year.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard from her niece Denise Church that she was a very private woman who did not like letting people into the house and maintained contact via letter. The family would meet up with her every two to three months and on special occasions.

Ms O’Reilly suffered from diabetes. Her neighbour Monica Dinan said that she remembered going into the house at some point in the two months prior to the discovery and Ms O’Reilly showed her her legs which were very swollen. She advised her see a doctor but she would not go to the doctor or a hospital, she said. 

The alarm was raised by another neighbour Vera Carroll who became concerned for Ms O’Reilly having not seen her since March. She spoke to the dead woman's next door neighbour who told her that he could hear the radio in the house at night. She said when she looked toward the bedroom window she could see that “the curtains were alive with bluebottles”. She contacted Ms O’Reilly’s sister who said she had not heard from her. She then called gardaí to inform them of her concerns.

Garda Shay Kilbride told the coroner that on arrival he also saw that the windows were "covered in flies" and there was a lot of mail in the porch. When he opened the letter box to call out to see if anyone was home, he could hear a loud television. The windows were all closed. He forced the front door open. The heat was “overwhelming”, he said, with electric heaters in both the living room and the kitchen. When he went upstairs he found the door of the front bedroom slightly ajar but when he tried to push it, it would not open. Ms O’Reilly’s body was slumped against the door and in a decomposed state, he said.

The post-mortem was carried out by former deputy state pathologist Dr Khalid Jaber, however, he was unable to give a cause of death due to the decomposition. There were no injuries to suggest any trauma inflicted to the body, coroner Dr Brian Farrell said.

Ms O’Reilly was last seen by the family in March during Easter and mail from mid-April had been found opened in the house. Garda Kilbride said that the house was secure, there were no suspicious circumstances and nothing to suspect that the death was self-inflicted.

In the absence of a cause of death, Dr Farrell returned an open verdict.

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