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Thursday 24 January 2019

Gardaí treating death of housing campaigner as tragic accident

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Ralph Riegel

A housing campaigner died as a result of an accidental fall down stairs and the position in which he then found himself lying.

A post-mortem examination by Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster is understood to have indicated that Leo Owens (48) had injuries consistent with an accidental fall in his Cork apartment complex.

Gardaí are now satisfied that there was no foul play involved in Mr Owens death which is now being treated as a tragic accident.

One critical element of Mr Owens' death is believed to be how he was left lying in the stairwell after the fall which left him vulnerable to positional asphyxia or the restriction of his ability to breath properly.

Mr Owens was also of a bulky build which may have exacerbated the impact of the fall down the stairs.

The discovery was made at 5pm on Tuesday by neighbours at the Harbour Hill complex in Cobh who immediately alerted Gardaí.

Mr Owens, the son of a former Workers Party councillor in Cobh, was pronounced dead at the scene before he could be transferred to Cork

University Hospital (CUH) by paramedics.

Gardaí immediately sealed off the area to allow for a full forensic examination.

The Office of the State Pathologist was notified.

A full post mortem examination was conducted at CUH by Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster.

It is understood it determined that Mr Owens injuries were consistent with having been sustained in an accidental fall.

Mr Owens made headlines earlier this year when he was part of a campaign over the rights of tenants in private rented accommodation.

He was also the focus of a submission to the Residential Tenancy Board (RTB).

He also featured in an RTE programme on the rights of tenants in private rented accommodation across Ireland.

Mr Owens was single and did not have children.

Tributes were paid to him in his native Cobh today.

Councillor Cathal Rasmussen described the incident as a terrible tragedy.

"It is very tragic particularly at this time of year. It is very, very sad for his family," he said.

Mr Owens is believed to have also been suffering from a number of health issues over recent times.

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