Dead schoolboy's family to take action against State
THE FAMILY of a schoolboy who died two days after being found unconscious in a garda cell are to proceed with legal action against the State, alleging their son was wrongfully killed.
The confirmation came as a Cork coroner's inquest yesterday returned an open verdict into the circumstances of Brian Rossiter's death six years ago.
The inquest was unable to make a ruling on precisely when Brian (14) sustained the blunt-force trauma injury that resulted in a hairline skull fracture and fatal brain bleed.
Last night, the Rossiter family's solicitor said the inquest evidence had strengthened the family's impending High Court action.
"The civil action by Mrs Rossiter is really on behalf of the entire family for the wrongful killing of Brian in custody. That is in the High Court and those proceedings can now go ahead," he said.
"If the matter is going to a trial, it will come to court maybe in the first quarter of next year. But, given the evidence that has come out of the inquest here, I think there may be developments in that case in the shorter term," he added.
Brian Rossiter's father Pat admitted last night that he will spend the rest of his life trying to deal with the fact that he did not take his 14-year-old son from a garda cell on September 10, 2002.
He told the inquest that gardai told him his son had overdosed after taking between 14 and 15 ecstasy tablets.
But on the fourth day of the Cork Coroner's Court inquest, Mr Rossiter said that toxicology tests showed no trace of drugs.
He also said that on the previous evening, September 10, gardai had told him his son was "drunk out of his mind" and "as high as a kite" in Clonmel garda station.
Mr Rossiter told the inquest that he then believed the safest place for his son was in the garda station.
"I will have to live with that for the rest of my life, it was a grave mistake on my behalf.
"But I know if I had got the information on the night I would have insisted on medical assistance (for Brian)."
After the inquest, Brian's mother Siobhan said: "I didn't consent to leaving him there. I was living 70 miles away and I don't drive. Looking back, I should have got somebody to take him out of there and bring him down to Wexford to me."
But she reiterated what Mr Rossiter said at the inquest about her son's condition.
"No parent should have to attend their own child's inquest. The only way to describe the last six years has been that a big, massive chunk has been taken from our lives," she said.
And she warned that the inquest has not dispelled the suspicion surrounding her son's death.
Brian died on September 13, 2002, in a Cork hospital two days after being found unconscious in a Clonmel garda station cell.
Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane told the inquest jury that they had two rulings open to them --a narrative or an open verdict.
Dr Cullinane had ruled that a verdict of unlawful killing was not available to the jury.
The eight-day inquest had heard conflicting expert medical evidence on precisely when Brian sustained the head injury.
Brian had been arrested in the town centre on the evening of September 10 with two teenage friends on a public order issue. Earlier, on September 9, Brian had been the victim of a serious street assault by an older man where he was head-butted repeatedly, punched and 'kneed' in the head.
The inquest heard detailed medical evidence that the teen died from blunt force trauma to the head which caused a hairline fracture of his skull and a fatal extra-dural haematoma.
However, three medical experts could not agree on precisely when the fatal injury was sustained.
Two of the teens arrested with Brian that evening -- one of whom arrived at the garda station with a bloody nose -- claimed they had been assaulted by gardai.