Grieving mother loses case over inquest into man who killed son

Tim Healy

THE mother of a 22-year-old man who was stabbed to death has lost her High Court action.

The loss was due to the Justice Minister's handling of a complaint made about the inquest into the death of her son's killer.

The action was brought by Nuala Creane whose son, Sebastian, was stabbed to death by Shane Clancy at their home at Cuala Grove, Bray, Co Wicklow, on August 16, 2009.

Clancy took his own life on the same date.

Another of Mrs Creane's sons, Dylan, and Jennifer Hannigan, who was Sebastian's girlfriend and an ex-girlfriend of Clancy, were wounded in the attack.

Mrs Creane had brought High Court proceedings because of her family's unhappiness with the manner in which an inquest into Clancy's death, which returned an open verdict, was conducted by the Coroner for East Wicklow, Cathal Louth, in April 2010.

She claimed that prior to the inquest she and her husband met with the coroner, who she said made certain representations about how the inquest would be conducted.

These included representations about how evidence on Clancy's relationship with anti-depressants and his behaviour on the night of the stabbings would be treated. As a result of that meeting, Mrs Creane said she and her husband decided to stay away from Clancy's inquest. However, she said that despite the reassurances, Mr Louth misled them and failed to conduct the inquest in a fair manner.

Earlier this year, the Creane family made a complaint about the coroner's conduct to Justice Minister Alan Shatter and asked that a new inquest be ordered. It was claimed that Mr Shatter failed to make a decision in relation to the complaint about the coroner's conduct regarding Clancy's inquest.

They also sought an order from the High Court directing Mr Shatter to consider their complaint properly and make a decision.

Yesterday, counsel for Mrs Creane, Mattias Kelly, said a reply sent by Mr Shatter was "no response to the complaint" and had "answered questions not asked".

In a statement of opposition, Mr Shatter denied Mrs Creane's claims. Mr Shatter's lawyers said that arising out of the Creanes' complaint, the family was informed by the minister that he had "no role in individual cases".


Yesterday, Mr Justice John Hedigan dismissed Mrs Creane's action, saying he was satisfied the minister had made his decision manifestly clear to the Creane family's request.

The judge, who noted the tragic circumstances surrounding the case, said Mr Shatter had "clearly, politely but very firmly said no".

Following the ruling, Feichin McDonagh, for Mr Shatter, said the minister was not seeking his costs in defending the action. Separately, Mrs Creane had brought proceedings against the Attorney General, arising out of her refusal to order that a new inquest be held. Yesterday, Mr McDonagh told the court that the Attorney General had again decided not to order a new inquest into Clancy's death.