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Jonathan's lonely, tragic death

Inquest told of journalist's fatal blood loss after fall JOURNALIST Jonathan Philbin Bowman died of shock and bleeding after he sustained ``superficial injuries'' following a fall in his home last March, an inquest heard yesterday.

Dublin City Coroner's Court heard that Jonathan (31), of Fitzgerald Street, Harold's Cross was pronounced dead on March 6 but may have lain undiscovered for up to 50 hours.

Mother of the deceased, Dr Eimear Philbin Bowman, told Coroner Dr Brian Farrell that the family had become concerned about Jonathan when his son Saul, who had been staying with his mother for the weekend, telephoned on March 5 to say that he had not had contact with his father. The next day it was discovered that Jonathan had still not made contact and his father, John Bowman, became alarmed and telephoned gardai at Rathmines.

Mr Bowman told the court that when he arrived at Jonathan's house on Fitzgerald Street, there were already two gardai at the house and they gained access to the house and confirmed that he was dead.


Neighbour Kathleen Bolger, who knew Jonathan to see for a number of years, said that on Friday, March 3 at around 7pm she saw Jonathan walking towards her on Fitzgerald Street. He was staggering and appeared to be ``very drunk''.

She asked him if he was OK and walked him to his front door. Mrs Bolger talked to Jonathan for some minutes and told him that she read his column every week and he gave her a hug. At this stage he appeared to have sobered up and was speaking very clearly and used his key to open the front door, Mrs Bolger said.

Garda Darragh Dolan, of Rathmines station, told the coroner that following a phone call by the Bowman family concerning Jonathan's welfare, a patrol car went to Jonathan's house on March 6 at around 4.25pm but gardai received no answer at the front door.

Garda Dolan said he could see a man's legs on the floor through the kitchen window and through a broken pane in the back door saw that he had received a gash to the head.

Gardai forced the front door and checked the body for signs of life but there were none, said Garda Dolan. Inspector James Flood of Terenure Garda station told the court that Jonathan's body was found slumped lying face upwards against a partition in the kitchen.

It was clear that he had either tripped or fallen over a stool, striking his head on the bottom pane of the glass doors which led to a small courtyard. It was evident that he had lain there for some time, the inspector said.

A garda investigation concluded that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of the Sunday Independent journalist. A post mortem conducted by Deputy State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy found that he had bled to death after receiving multiple superficial facial injuries.

Dr Cassidy added that the position of the body at the scene suggested that the deceased had possibly fallen off or over a stool in the kitchen but had not fallen down the stairs.

Tests showed that it was possible death had occurred at least 50 hours prior to discovery of the body.

A toxicology report showed that there had been a ``considerable amount'' of alcohol with a blood alcohol level of 402mg. There were no drugs present. That amount of alcohol would have rendered the deceased unsteady on his feet and once on the ground, he may have been unaware of the danger to his life, Dr Cassidy said.

The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death saying that, by all accounts, Jonathan was a man of ``considerable talent and great promise'' and that his death must be an inconsolable loss to his family.

John Bowman said it had been a very painful time for his family. In a statement he said the injury sustained by Jonathan in the fall ``need not have proved fatal''.

``It was the fact that he was concussed, had taken too much to drink and was alone that night which caused his death. If his accident makes others more aware of their vulnerability in such circumstances, this would be some small consolation,'' the statement said.

It concluded that Jonathan was ``a wonderful father, son, brother and friend.''

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