Tuesday 21 November 2017

Teenager with ‘unusually thin skull’ died after row during rugby match, inquest told

Pair were watching Wales v Fiji game when the fight took place

The brothers were watching the Wales versus Fiji in the rugby World Cup. (Photo by Tim Williams/ActionPlus/Corbis via Getty Images)
The brothers were watching the Wales versus Fiji in the rugby World Cup. (Photo by Tim Williams/ActionPlus/Corbis via Getty Images)

Louise Roseingrave

A teenager with an "unusually thin skull" died in hospital just days after a row with his younger brother while they watched a rugby match, an inquest heard.

The 18-year-old sustained a blow to the side of the head that resulted in a fatal brain injury.

A post-mortem examination revealed he had an unusually thin skull, a congenital condition often referred to as ‘eggshell skull’. State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy said the injury was caused by a glancing blow to the side of the head, the thinnest part of the skull, which was less than one millimetre thick.

The two brothers were at the family home in the midlands when a row erupted during the Wales versus Fiji match on October 1, 2015. The younger brother called for quiet when his mother entered the room while the match was on. The elder brother spoke up in defence of his mother, Dublin Coroner's Court heard.

The pair exchanged words and there was some pushing between them when the older brother picked up a stool and held it in the air. The younger brother struck the older one ‘two or three punches’ before their father stepped in.

“It was over in seconds. Around twenty minutes later he complained of a headache and said he was feeling unwell. I told him to lie down and take some panadol,” the boys’ father said. 

“He squared up to me and I struck him in the face, twice in the same place, with my fist,” the younger brother said in his deposition. He was not present in court.

“Dad said 'that was stupid' and I shouldn’t have done it...I don’t know why I hit him, it was just a reaction. Straight away I asked myself why did I do that?”

The court heard that the 18-year-old began to feel unwell around 20 minutes later.

“He said he was not feeling well, he looked unwell, he was leaning against the wall... He said to me, ‘will you ring ambulance?’”

When paramedics arrived and spoke to him the teenager told them, “I’m in bits.”

“He was talking and making sense when we arrived but he deteriorated quickly, his level of consciousness began to drop,” the paramedic said.

The teen was rushed to hospital and later transferred to Beaumont Hospital where he died three days later.

Prof Cassidy said: “It was a simple strike to the left side of the head. It wasn’t even a direct blow it was a glancing blow that caught the left side of his head.”

The blow resulted in a skull fracture which caused a tear in a blood vessel that resulted in a hemorrhage.

 “The force caused the bone fragment to cut into the blood vessel and the bleeding caused pressure to build up inside his head,” Prof Cassidy said. The cause of death was head injury in association with a congenitally thin skull and the jury returned a narrative verdict.

Online Editors

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