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Family appeal for answers after their mother’s death in ‘unexplained’ circumstances


Margaret Bracken

Margaret Bracken

Margaret Bracken


The family of a Dundalk woman who died in her home twenty months ago have called for her death to be ‘fully investigated’.

Margaret Bracken (68) was found in her home in Blackwater Court on the morning of December 16th, 2019.

Her family had made repeated efforts to contact her before alerting gardai who had to force open a doorway before finding Margaret’s naked body behind the door.

Although the discovery was treated as a sudden death, her family say they believe Margaret died following a struggle with a handbag thief, and have highlighted their efforts to get her death treated as suspicious.

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‘Gardai who came to the house that day spent all of about seven minutes before they left with condolences to us,’ Margaret’s grieving daughter Susan told The Argus.

‘Our mother was found naked lying in the hallway. Her set of false teeth lying at the door of her bedroom, and her clothes found turned inside out as if they had been pulled off her,’ said Susan.

Bottles of vodka were also found in the house, which the Bracken family say their mother did not drink.

Later they discovered her handbag was gone. The bag contained what they believe was many thousands of euro, which Margaret had withdrawn from her bank following a lotto win some years earlier.

‘Mammy always kept that bag close to her, so for it to have disappeared without a trace set off alarm bells for us straightaway.’

Although there had been cctv installed at the house Susan told how they discovered the control box was also missing. The hard drive for the system was in the attic. It has since been passed to Gardai.

But she added that, despite appeals to Dundalk gardai, the scene was never sealed off or investigated, and suspicious bruises on Margaret’s hands were not documented.

‘We believe she died after a struggle with the person who took her handbag, which has never been found. But our fears were never taken seriously by the gardai.’

The family say they have accepted the results of the post mortem which was carried out, which found the primary cause of death was myocardial infarction - a heart attack, and chronic lung disease was listed a secondary cause.

But they remain critical of the garda handling of the case, and made a complaint to the Garda Ombusman (GSOC) about the scene not being perserved or examined immediately after the discovery of Margaret’s body.

A GSOC investigation followed, but The Argus understands that no breach of disciplinary regulations was found.

Susan added: ‘We will continue to pursue justice for our mam. We don’t want any other family to ever have to go through what we have.’

A garda investigation has been confirmed as ongoing, and the Bracken family say they understand an individual is being investigated.

In a statement issued to The Argus, An Garda Síochána confirmed ‘an ongoing investigation into all the circumstances of the discovery of the body of a female in Dundalk in unexplained circumstances on the evening of the 15th December 2019.’

‘An Garda Síochána does not comment on the specifics of ongoing investigations, however An Garda Síochána can confirm that a file has been submitted to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. An Garda Síochána does not comment on correspondence with the Director of Public Prosecutions.’

‘A complaint was investigated by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission into certain aspects of the response of members of An Garda Síochána in this case. While An Garda Síochána does not comment on investigations by GSOC, this office understands that this investigation has been completed.’