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Starvation and neglect led to death of loner

STARVATION played a key role in the death of a 49-year-old man described by a relative as a "loner", a Dublin inquest heard.

James O'Connor was found dead in a house at Mount Carmel Park, Firhouse on March 31 last, after neighbours became alarmed when he had not been seen for some time and post built up in his letterbox.

Garda Donal Ashe, of Rathfarnham Garda Station, said he went to the house at 2.30pm after a call from neighbours and found Mr O'Connor lying on the floor of the sitting room.

A cousin of the dead man told County Coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty that she last saw him some weeks before.

"He lived a vagabond life. He was a loner," she said.

Asked by the Coroner if he looked ill, she replied: "He always looked ill because he never looked after himself."

A man who was visiting his sister in the estate, Joseph Ennis, said he went to check on Mr O'Connor when he saw post in the letterbox and found him slumped on the ground.


Dr Michael Jeffers, who carried out a post mortem examination, said the dead man's body was "extremely emaciated" with no fat on the body.

"He clearly hadn't eaten for some time," he said. There was no evidence of alcohol or drug abuse.

He told the Coroner that when the body runs out of fat, it starts to generate energy by burning up muscle.

It was most likely death was due to starvation and neglect with the cause of death being cardiac arrythmia, secondary to metabolic acidosis, secondary to starvation, the doctor said.

The coroner commented that it seemed "an unnatural way to die," but added that could be said of all the deaths before him yesterday.

It was "a very sad case," he said.

The family tried to help "but obviously he lived his life the way he had chosen," he said.

He extended his sympathy to Mr O'Connor's family