Friday 20 April 2018

Kate 'thought she wouldn't see her 25th birthday', inquest told

Kate Fitzgerald
Kate Fitzgerald

MAEVE SHEEHAN

THE portrait of PR consultant Kate Fitzgerald that emerged at the inquest into her death last week was of a troubled young woman struggling with depression.

The 25-year-old public relations consultant was thought to have died of suicide in August 2011, but her parents, Tom and Sally, later complained to the Garda Ombudsman about the investigation and questioned whether she took her own life.

Her inquest was told of a sometimes brilliant young woman driven in her work but who suffered from depression and often talked of suicide. Four friends spoke of rallying around her during the many episodes of depression and attempted suicide.

Ceile Varley, who described Kate as her "best friend" said she was "great fun" and brilliant but also suffered from "panic attacks", "cried a lot" and had tried to overdose.

"She thought she wouldn't live to see her 25th birthday," said Ms Varley.

Derek Lande, a former boyfriend of Kate's, said they stayed friends after breaking up. She called him when she took a lot of drink and pills on St Patrick's Day, 2011. On another occasion in July, he went to her flat with another friend, Brendan Bruen, and hid some of her tablets and watered down the tequila she had been drinking.

Kate later gave Mr Lande a copy of her house key because she was worried something was going to happen to her. "Ultimately, Kate had a serious illness and had not received the proper treatment for it," said Mr Lande.

Mr Bruen, also a former boyfriend, talked about the same episode in July.

"She had slurred speech and was drowsy. During the conversation she was really down in herself and I was trying to convince her to speak to a professional for help," he told the inquest.

While she was recovering in hospital, he told her he had a new partner. Kate was angry and upset.

"We were one Facebook photo away from her finding out about this . . . I believed it was the right thing to do to tell her in a controlled environment," he said.

Friend Clare Brady Hayes said Kate was a professional in her work, but she was also quite paranoid and drank a lot. She and Kate had been close, she told the inquest, but less so in the months before her death. "Kate was angry with me. She tended to push people away," she said.

The inquest heard that in her last months, Kate found it difficult to do her job. Mr Bruen told the inquest she believed her employer was "not supportive", after her hospitalisation.

She began looking for a new job. She had been interviewed for another post before her death and was positive she would get the job. Ms Varley said the happiest she had seen her was on August 13 – more than a week before she died.

On Monday, August 22, the day before her body was found, Kate had messaged Mr Bruen, after 8pm, asking if she could call over. He didn't see the message, as he was out. At 8.44pm she sent a second message saying: "I take it it's a bad time, I shouldn't have asked. I'm sorry."

Ms Varley said she got a text message from Kate at 9.35pm. It said: "Don't turn into me."

The inquest was adjourned until May 23, when evidence is expected to be heard from investigators who attended the scene of Kate's death.

Irish Independent

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