Handcuffed man had taken lethal cocktail of drugs

Ralph Riegel

A 22-year-old man who died while handcuffed during a garda raid had consumed a lethal drugs cocktail, according to a top forensic pathologist.

David O'Mahony died after suffering a seizure while restrained with handcuffs by gardai during a drugs raid five years ago.

The British pathologist's findings on the drug cocktail back up those of Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster.

Cork City Coroner's Court heard that toxicology tests revealed Mr O'Mahony had consumed a lethal cocktail of drugs, including cocaine, lignocaine, heroin, steroids, marijuana and alcohol.


Dr Richard Shepherd -- Britain's most senior forensic pathologist and a specialist in complex investigations -- yesterday endorsed Dr Bolster's findings.

Dr Shepherd -- who had been asked to review the case by Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane -- said that there was no evidence Mr O'Mahony had been excessively restrained by gardai.

Dr Bolster had ruled -- after conducting a post-mortem on Mr O'Mahony -- that he had died from cocaine, lignocaine and alcohol intoxication during restraint.

Traces of morphine and a synthetic steroid, Nandrolone, which is used by sportsmen, were also found in his system.

Mr O'Mahony, from Glenamoy Lawn, Mayfield, Cork, suffered a fatal seizure during a garda search of a house he shared with his brother Shane at McSwiney Villas, Gurranabraher, on November 14 2007.

Dr Bolster found the young man displayed only minor injuries consistent with having been restrained such as bruises to his wrist where handcuffs had been placed. There was no evidence whatsoever of him having suffered asphyxia.

Dr Shepherd agreed and ruled out any suggestion of traumatic asphyxia being the cause of death. Because Mr O'Mahony died while being restrained by gardai, the incident was investigated by the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC). A file was prepared for the DPP but no further action was directed.

Dr Bolster said that while Mr O'Mahony did have minor injuries consistent with having been restrained such as bruising to his wrist, "they did not cause death in this case".

The lignocaine concentration in his blood was found to be 28 micrograms -- with anything above 20 micrograms being potentially lethal.

At a previous inquest hearing, Shane O'Mahony said that four gardai were involved in handcuffing his brother.

The officers had arrived at the rented property shared by the brothers with a search warrant. Mr O'Mahony acknowledged that a small dispute had erupted between his brother and one of the detectives present.

Mr O'Mahony said his brother was relaxed in front of gardai and began to whistle -- telling the officers they were wasting their time as there were no drugs present.

A detective allegedly told David O'Mahony to "shut up", at which point Mr O'Mahony objected to being spoken to like that in his own home. Eventually, four officers were involved in restraining him -- and he was eventually handcuffed and placed on a couch.

Shane O'Mahony said his brother suddenly went quiet and he noticed that he was breathing heavily. Within five minutes, his brother's feet began to tremble as he suffered a 20-second seizure.

Mr O'Mahony said that gardai agreed to remove the handcuffs from his brother -- but he then suffered a second, more serious seizure.

"The second one looked a lot worse than the first one -- he nearly came off the couch and the eyeballs were nearly popping out of his head," he said.

The inquest continues.