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€5k theft accused killed himself on day due in court

A LEINSTER rugby referee accused of stealing thousands of euro from an exclusive private school took his own life on the morning of his court appearance.

Father-of-six Denis Connolly (55) sent a text message to a garda before he was found at his home on April 4, last year. An inquest into his death heard that that he had been due to appear in court that day.

Mr Connolly had been charged with the theft of €5,110 from the accounts of St Michael's College on Ailesbury Road in Dublin 4. He had been a senior member of the board of trustees at the 600-pupil school where fees are almost €5,000 per year. Past pupils include Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, former Irish rugby international Keith Gleeson and ex-AIB chairman Lochlann Quinn.

Mr Connolly was arrested just before Christmas 2010 and the following February gardai told a court hearing that they were continuing their inquiries into the misappropriation of a much larger amount. It is now understood that the amount in question was around €200,000.

Mr Connolly did not attend the February 2 court hearing. Garda Sergeant Caroline Cullen told Dublin District Court he was not able to attend court because of a "serious incident".

Message

The nature of the incident was not disclosed to the court and the case was adjourned.

At Dublin Coroner's Court yesterday, Detective Sergeant James Byrne of Donnybrook Garda Station said that he received a text message from Mr Connolly at around 10.30am on April 4 which led him to believe that the deceased intended to kill himself.

Mr Connolly, of St John's Park in Sandymount, and originally from Edenderry, Co Offaly included instructions on how to gain entry to the house within the text message.

His son John Charles Connolly told the court that his father seemed fine the night before and that the two of them had spent time sorting out some old pound coins for members of the family.

He was aware his father wanted to die, he said, and had taken a piece of rope away from him a few days before the incident.

He was sleeping upstairs when his father took his life and was woken by gardai as they checked the rest of the house.

When gardai entered, they found Mr Connolly at a stairwell. He was unresponsive.

When Dublin Fire Brigade arrived they were able to secure a faint pulse. He was transferred to St Vincent's Hospital, however, a CT scan revealed that he had sustained significant brain damage.

Mr Connolly died three days later on April 7. The cause of death was given as severe hypoxic brain injury as a result of asphyxiation due to hanging.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell returned a verdict of death by suicide.

hnews@herald.ie


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