Monday 10 December 2018

'We're just glad it is over' - Family of Dolores O'Riordan as coroner records her death as 'accidental'

Eileen O'Riordan (centre) leaving Westminster Coroner's Court, London
Eileen O'Riordan (centre) leaving Westminster Coroner's Court, London
Dolores O'Riordan's family at her inquest in London Photo: Mark Condren

Ralph Riegel

IRISH rock star Dolores O'Riordan (46) drowned in the bathtub of her London hotel room while more than four times over the drink driving limit.

The revelation came as a London coroner's court held an inquest into the death of The Cranberries lead singer and mother of three.

Westminster Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe returned a verdict of accidental death with the singer having drowned due to alcohol intoxification.

Ms O'Riordan was found dead in bedroom 2005 at the Hilton hotel on Park Lane in London at 9am on January 15.

4/10/13 The Cranberrie's Dolores O'Riordan new coach on The Voice, at the Late Late show at RTE in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron/Collins
4/10/13 The Cranberrie's Dolores O'Riordan new coach on The Voice, at the Late Late show at RTE in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron/Collins
Dolores O'Riordan during the Semi Finals of The Voice of Ireland in The Helix
The Cranberries Dolores O'Riordan with her Mum Eileen in Bruff Co Limerick .
Camera: DCS520C Serial #: K520C-05286 Width: 1152 Height: 1728 Date: 30/11/2002 Time: 7:50:22 DCS5XX Image FW Ver: 3.2.3 TIFF Image Look: Product Antialiasing Filter: Removed Counter: [105135] ISO Speed: 800 Aperture: f2.8 Shutter: 1/20 Max Aperture: f2.8 Min Aperture: f32 Exposure Mode: Manual (M) Compensation: +0.0 Flash Compensation: +0.0 Meter Mode: Evaluative Flash Mode: No flash Drive Mode: Continuous Focus Mode: AI Servo Focus Point: Auto Focal Length (mm): 75 White balance: Auto Time: 07:50:22.632
Camera: DCS520C Serial #: K520C-05286 Width: 1728 Height: 1152 Date: 30/11/2002 Time: 7:52:48 DCS5XX Image FW Ver: 3.2.3 TIFF Image Look: Product Antialiasing Filter: Removed Counter: [105173] ISO Speed: 800 Aperture: f2.8 Shutter: 1/60 Max Aperture: f2.8 Min Aperture: f32 Exposure Mode: Manual (M) Compensation: +0.0 Flash Compensation: +0.0 Meter Mode: Evaluative Flash Mode: No flash Drive Mode: Continuous Focus Mode: AI Servo Focus Point: Auto Focal Length (mm): 145 White balance: Auto Time: 07:52:48.170
Dolores O'Riordan PICTURE BY DAVID CONACHY.
Dolores O'Riordan of the Cranberries pictured at the Meteor Awards in 2002 PICTURE COLIN KEEGAN, COLLINS, DUBLIN.
24/10/01 DOLORES O'RIORDAN OF THE CRANBERRIES PICTURED IN DUBLIN THIS AFTERNOON...PICTURE COLIN KEEGAN, COLLINSA, DUBLIN.
Dolores O'Riordan at a press conference in 2000 PIC:MARC O'SULLIVAN/COLLINS/DUBLIN
Dolores O'Riordan at the Heineken Green Energy Festival in 2000 PICTURE:COLLINS DUBLIN...
Dolores O'Riordan prior to an appearance on the Late Late Show in 1999 PICTURE COLIN KEEGAN, COLLINS, DUBLIN.
Dolores O'Riordan, at her wedding to Don Burton in 1994.Photo: RollingNews.ie

She was discovered by a hotel maid with her head and nose below the water level in the bathroom bathtub.

She was wearing a pyjama bottoms and a vest.

Dolores O’Riordan, who died last January
Dolores O’Riordan, who died last January

Desperate efforts to revive her failed and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

A number of empty alcohol containers, all from the hotel minibar, were found in the bedroom including an empty champagne bottle.

Cranberries star Dolores O’Riordan died suddenly in January while she was in London for a short recording session. REUTERS
Cranberries star Dolores O’Riordan died suddenly in January while she was in London for a short recording session. REUTERS

Hotel records showed the minibar had been activated at 2am.

Ms O'Riordan had a blood alcohol level of 330mg, almost four times the legal drink driving limit.

Dolores O'Riordan's family at her inquest in London Photo: Mark Condren
Dolores O'Riordan's family at her inquest in London Photo: Mark Condren

While containers for prescription medications were found in the room, only one was slightly over the therapeutic range in her system.

There was no evidence of any intent or note found in the room - and the inquest ruled that her death was a tragic accident.

The singer had been scheduled to travel to New York the following week to work on a solo album.

"There was no evidence this was anything other than an accident. This seems to be solely a tragic accident," Dr Radcliffe said.

The coroner sympathised with Ms O'Riordan's family who she described as "very supportive."

The inquest was attended by Ms O'Riordan's mother, Eileen, her brother, PJ, and sister-in-law.

The family did not ask questions at the inquest which lasted around 45 minutes.

Ms O'Riordan's family were escorted after the inquest to a waiting car and did not reply to queries from the assembled media.

However, they later issued a statement saying:

"Since her untimely passing, the entire O’Riordan Family has taken great comfort from the sheer volume of love and respect shown for Dolores. We want to thank relatives and friends from all over as well as her worldwide fan community for their kind words and prayers.  Your letters, cards and tributes continue to be a source of solace for Dolores’s children, her mother Eileen, her sister Angela and her brothers Terence, Brendan, Donal, Joseph and PJ.

"Fame however, can sometimes bring with it a heavy burden, and as a family, we want to acknowledge that Dolores's life was not without challenges, particularly in the past few years. She was receiving the best professional care available to help her overcome these challenges.

"We are immensely proud of Dolores’s many achievements.  Coming from rural County Limerick, our Dolores dared to dream the impossible dream and achieved phenomenal global success and fame in her chosen career. She was a very determined and strong minded person, traits that were evident from an early age.  If you asked Dolores as a young child what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would look you in the eye and tell you she was going to be a rock star. Simple as that".

In a statement, her band mates in The Cranberries said "they continue to struggle to come to terms with what happened".

"Our heartfelt condolences go out to Dolores' children and her family and our thoughts are with them today.

"Dolores will live on eternally in her music. To see how much of a positive impact she had on people's lives has been a source of great comfort to us. We'd like to say thank you to all of our fans for the outpouring of messages and their continued support during this very difficult time.

"We request, please, for our privacy to be respected at this time."

The singer was described to the inquest as: "A feisty performer and a charismatic young woman."

Dr Radcliffe was told Ms O'Riordan was "a loyal daughter, a very loving sister and a devoted mother."

However, the inquest was also told the singer found that "fame carries a heavy burden" and suffered a number of health issues.

The Metropolitan Police had stressed within two weeks of the death of the Limerick star that the incident was not being treated as suspicious.

Her hotel bedroom door was locked from the inside when the maid made the grim discovery.

There were no marks found on Ms O'Riordan's body and no note was found at the scene.

A friend staying in the same hotel had been concerned the previous evening at Ms O'Riordan's relapse into alcohol use.

Dr Radcliffe heard evidence at an Inner West London inquest from a total of eight witnesses in relation to the circumstances of the death of the rock star.

Two witnesses attended the inquest to offer evidence in person while six prepared expert reports which were read out to the inquest.

The inquest heard that Ms O'Riordan acknowledged that she had an obsessive use of alcohol.

On a previous occasion while she was drinking heavily, she had written a suicide note only to pass out and seek help when she later regained consciousness.

The star also had a high profile air rage incident when she was arrested at Shannon Airport in November 2014 after head-butting a Garda.

A court later heard she had been suffering from a severe bout of mental illness at the time.

She sought professional assistance for her problems and attended an addiction treatment centre as well as several top psychiatrists.

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) psychiatrist, Dr Seamas O'Ceallaigh, and US psychiatrist Dr Robert Hirschfeld were treating Ms O'Riordan.

She was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder in partial remission.

The star had stopped drinking and, in late 2017, was described as being in good form and eagerly looking forward to career challenges.

She was found to have no self harm ideation.

Dr O'Ceallaigh had met Ms O'Riordan in early 2018 and she appeared to be positive about the future including developments in both her career and family life.

However, the inquest heard that, during a trip to Canada, Ms O'Riordan had relapsed and started drinking again.

The inquest evidence offered came from Stephen Earl (identification), GP Dr Rizwan Aslam Mughal, Mark Vials of the London Ambulance Service, Metropolitan Police Constable Natalie Smart, US psychiatrist Dr Robert Hirschfeld, Irish psychiatrist Dr Seamas O'Ceallaigh, pathologist Dr Adam Coumbe and toxicology expert Dr Rebecca  Andrews.

Dr Coumbe conducted the post mortem examination and ruled that Ms O'Riordan had drowned due to alcohol intoxification.

Dr Andrews conducted the toxicology tests and found Ms O'Riordan had a blood alcohol concentration of 330mg and urine alcohol concentration of 397mg.

Traces of four medications used to treat depressive disorders were found in her system but all bar one was within the low therapeutic range.

That fourth drug was found in only a slightly elevated range.

The inquest was held at Tachbrook Street in Pimlico in central London.

In a heartbreaking coincidence, the inquest was staged on what would have been the 47th birthday of The Cranberries lead singer.

The Limerick singer was in Mayfair last January for a short recording session.

She had been working on material that was expected to form the basis of a new solo album.

Poignantly, just three weeks ago the victorious Limerick All-Ireland hurling side insisted that the Liam McCarthy Cup be brought to the Limerick home of The Cranberries star in a gesture of solidarity with her heartbroken family.

The singer's mother, Eileen, and her siblings held the trophy as Limerick GAA officials paid special tribute to the singer whose work has become some of the city's best loved anthems.

Limerick's triumphant hurlers were welcomed back to the Gaelic Grounds packed with 45,000 fans as some of Ms O'Riordan and The Cranberries biggest hits were played on the PA system.

Ms O'Riordan is survived by her three children, Taylor (20), Molly (16) and Dakota (12).

She was buried in Friarstown, just a short distance from her mother’s Limerick home.

Founded in Limerick in 1989, The Cranberries became one of the world's most distinctive alt-rock groups of the 1990s.

Ms O'Riordan's vocals were hailed as unique and instantly recognisable with the band boasting a large and dedicated fan base in the US and across Europe.

The Limerick group have sold over 40 million records and boast numerous Top 20 singles including 'Linger', 'Zombie,' 'Dreams' and 'Salvation.'

'Zombie' and 'Dreams' were adopted by the 2018 Limerick senior hurlers as the unofficial anthems of their triumphant championship campaign.

Ms O'Riordan also worked as a judge on RTE's popular 'Voice of Ireland' show in 2013.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News