Peggy Mangan died from hypothermia having walked for 23 kilometres, an inquest has heard.
The 67-year-old mother-of-three from Mount Tallant Avenue in Terenure, south Dublin, went missing from her home while walking her dog Casper on September 24 last year. Her disappearance was the subject of huge publicity but despite an extensive search by gardaí and volunteers, her body was not found until September 28 when it was discovered in waste ground on the Ballymun Road near IKEA.
Dublin Coroner’s Court heard it is likely she stumbled into a ravine and died within hours having developed hypothermia.
Mrs Mangan, who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease, was reported missing at 4pm on Tuesday, September 24, after the family became concerned for her safety when she had not returned from a walk with Casper. Her husband Tom Mangan was not in court to give evidence but, in his deposition read into the record, he said that she would normally walk the dog ten times a day.
“She could be gone for two hours and there would be no alarm. As long as she has the dog with her I am never worried, she would always come back. If she was to go out on her own, she might be more confused,” he told gardaí.
He last saw her at 11am that morning when she left the house with the dog. In the afternoon, the family checked with neighbours to see if she was with them but they had not seen her. Son Jonathan Mangan began searching the local area and Mr Mangan went to Terenure Garda Station to report their concerns.
There were several sightings of Mrs Mangan throughout the day. At around 1pm she spoke for 30-40 minutes with paramedic Declan Doherty who was working on Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie which was filming in Charleville Grove on the Finglas Road. He said she mentioned her health and that she had a chest infection which he advised her to go to her GP about. She seemed normal, he said, and he did not have any concerns about her well-being.
“The dog was obviously very fatigued. She mentioned Tom and that he might be cross with her that she had been out so long with the dog,” he said.
At about 3.30pm she spoke with a woman who admired her dog. She was later seen at 5.45pm outside the Mormon Church on the Finglas Road and on the opposite side of the road at about 6.55pm. CCTV footage shows that she headed toward Finglas, looped back around toward Phibsboro before heading back out in the Finglas direction again. The last suspected sighting of her is on CCTV from a Bord Gais building at Poppintree at 9.25pm.
Detective Sergeant Joseph Molloy said they estimate Mrs Mangan walked 23 kilometres before arriving at the place where she was found.
The body was discovered lying face up in the ravine by volunteer searchers. Mrs Mangan was pronounced dead at the scene. Casper was located nearby and taken to a veterinary surgery but died shortly after.
At post-mortem, deputy state pathologist Dr Michael Curtis gave the cause of death as hypothermia. There was no evidence that Mrs Mangan had been assaulted.
Coroner Dr Brian Farrell returned a verdict of death by misadventure.