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Tuesday 15 October 2019

Young Irish musician died from blunt force trauma injuries, inquest finds

Damien O’Brien was an up and coming musician
Damien O’Brien was an up and coming musician

Ralph Riegel

A young Waterford musician who was the victim of an assault died from blunt force trauma injuries to the head.

A Cork coroner's inquest heard that Damien O'Brien (27) of the up-and-coming rock group, Chimpanbee, died from a brain stem haemorrhage and traumatic brain injury consistent with him having suffered blunt force trauma to the head.

Coroner Philip Comyn was given medical evidence as to Mr O'Brien's cause of death by Assistant State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan who performed a post mortem examination at Cork University Hospital (CUH) on July 14 2018.

Mr O'Brien's inquest was then adjourned on the application of Inspector Conor Dillon given that an individual is currently before the courts in relation to the injuries sustained by the young musician.

Last month Craig McGrath (25) pleaded guilty before Waterford Circuit Criminal Court to the manslaughter contrary to common law of Mr O'Brien (27) on July 7 last.

Mr O'Brien - who was from Kilmacow in south Kilkenny - was a talented musician and a hugely popular figure within the entertainment industry in the south east. He was the keyboard player with the up-and-coming Waterford band Chimpanbee.

Mr O'Brien sustained serious head injuries in an attack at the junction of John Street and The Manor in Waterford as he walked home in the early hours of July 7 2018.

Mr O'Brien was initially treated at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) where his condition was critical.

He was then transferred to the special head trauma unit at Cork University Hospital (CUH).

Tragically, the young musician died on July 13 after several days on a life support machine.

McGrath of Rathfadden Park, Waterford pleaded guilty before Judge Eugene O'Kelly at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court to the unlawful killing of Mr O'Brien.

The defendant - who appeared in court wearing blue slacks, a white shirt and blue waistcoat - did not address the court beyond confirming his guilty plea.

Judge O'Kelly was told that the defendant is currently liaising with the Probation and Welfare Service (PWS).

McGrath's defence counsel applied for an adjournment so that a PWS report would be available to the court for sentencing.

"Mr McGrath knows and anticipates he will be receiving a custodial sentence," the court was told.

Conor O'Doherty BL, for the State, indicated they had no difficulty with an adjournment to facilitate the sentencing hearing.

Judge O'Kelly adjourned the matter until May 24 when McGrath will be sentenced.

In a moving tribute last year, Mr O'Brien's band mates in Chimpanbee hailed him as "our brother, friend and prodigal son behind the keys."

"Thank you for the music, brother - rest in peace now."

The young man was a member of several other talented rock groups in the south east but was best known for his work with Chimpanbee.

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