Windows found open in flat where mum-of-two Rachel froze to death, inquest told

Alan O'Keeffe

AN inquest into the death of a young Dublin mother who froze to death at home was told windows were open at the time of her death.

Coroner Brian Farrell said he would clear up inconsistencies in the case at a final hearing next month.

Rachel Peavoy (30), a mother of two, was found dead in her council flat in Ballymun in Dublin on January 11, 2010.

A pathologist who carried out a post mortem found she had suffered hypothermia.

Dublin City Council's housing manager in Ballymun, Donal Barron, said at the reconvened inquest yesterday that he was told by Inspector Andrew Waters that the windows were open in the flat at the time of her death.

Dr Farrell declared the issue over whether windows in the flat were opened or closed at the time the body was found came at "the 11th hour".

He apologised to the family for having to adjourn the case once again until April 6 in order to clear up the issue.

Ms Peavoy's mother told the Dublin City Coroner she would not come back again to the court.

Dublin City Council told the inquest the heating was working in the flat in Ballymun where Ms Peavoy died.

Council engineer Brendan Furlong denied that the heating in Ms Peavoy's flat was turned off, saying it was working at the time of her death.

Mr Furlong, a senior executive engineer specialising in heating, ventilation and air conditioning, said a weather compensation system was in place at the Shangan Road flats and the heating was only disabled when outside temperatures reached about 20C.

However, he said air temperatures could fall and heat could be lost by an infiltration of air into a flat, or neighbouring flat.

Mr Furlong said a fitter had visited the flat on December 15, 2009 and noted a temperature of 17C.


Dr Ciaran Craven, legal counsel for the Peavoy family, said the fitter had stated the low temperature in her flat on that visit was caused by the flats next door and below her being vacant.

A letter from Dublin City Council to former Minister for Housing Noel Ahern said the council was aware of complaints made about heating on November 11 and 18, 2009.

The letter said a reading of the temperature in Ms Peavoy's apartment was "found to be below desired levels".

Dr Farrell announced he would adjourn the case after Dr Craven said the evidence concerning the windows being open was new.

Garda Catriona Byrne told yesterday's inquest that the flat was "freezing cold" when she arrived.

"We'd come in from outside where it was very cold as it was snowing. The flat was freezing cold," she said.

Ms Peavoy, of 224 Shangan Road in Ballymun, had last spoken to her mother, Celine, the day before she was found dead.

Rachel had asked her mother to mind her two young sons, Leon and Warren, and said she was turning her phone off because she couldn't sleep.

The next day, after numerous unsuccessful attempts to contact Ms Peavoy, her brother Leon Peavoy and friend Jacqueline Johnston let themselves into her flat. Ms Johnston found the body of her friend in the main bedroom.