A 66-year-old man who was found unresponsive in his Dunmore East home before his death was pronounced at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) in January 2022, had no relatives in Ireland, Waterford’s Coroner’s Court was told on Tuesday last.
Formal identification of the deceased, who had only recently moved to Ireland for work, was conducted by video link through a niece of his in the Czech Republic.
The autopsy, conducted at UHW by pathologist Dr Sri Ganesh Kalimuthu, concluded that the man had died due to cerebral hypoxia (a lack of blood to the brain) and subarachnoid haemorrhage (bleeding in the space surrounding the brain).
Organs from the deceased – the liver, both kidneys and his heart valves – were subsequently donated to three different patients.
Addressing County Coroner John Goff, Inspector Larry Sheehan of Waterford Garda Station stated: “I’m glad that all three people are having a better quality of life thanks to the donation of these organs.”
This news, which Mr Goff also welcomed, was the only glimmer of light on another difficult afternoon for the bereaved who attended the hearing.
Of the seven cases brought before Mr Goff at Court Number 4, five involved men who had died by hanging. The ages of four of the five deceased were shared in court: 47, 56, 66 and 71.
The youngest of the deceased, whose age was not specifically recorded during this hearing, was in his early 20s at the time of death in mid-November 2021. Mr Goff, who heard the details of this young man’s death from Insp Sheehan and Dr Sri without any family members of the deceased present, before delivering his verdict, described it as “a very sad case”.
In the case of the 48-year-old man who died in late August 2o21, Mr Goff understood that the deceased was very popular within the circles he frequented, adding that it “was a terrible way to lose him”. Insp Sheehan added: “He was a young man in the prime of his life. He had good friends who would have helped him but sadly he did not seek that help.”
Regarding the case of the 56-year-old male who was found in his city home, and whose mobile phone records revealed nothing of evidential value, Mr Goff told the bereaved: “In a case like this, there are always questions.”
The eldest case in this upsetting sequence involved a nursing home resident who was found in the bathroom of his ensuite accommodation by a care assistant who had come to check on a breakfast order.
An autopsy was conducted by Pathologist Dr Eimear Lee at UHW in early July of last year, with Mr Goff describing it as “a very unusual case” taking the age of the deceased and the cause of death into account. “Whatever got on top of him, we won’t ever truly know what that was,” he commented.
The remaining two inquests heard by Mr Goff were both drug-related, involving the deaths of a 38-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman, both of whom had Waterford city addresses.
In the case of the 38-year-old male, Dr Lee’s autopsy revealed multiple medications in the deceased’s system along with cocaine and a level of morphine, which could have been a breakdown product of heroin. Dr Lee told the bereaved that this may have been a case of someone who went asleep and didn’t wake up.
In his verdict, John Goff directed that the mid-June 2021 death was due to multi-drug toxicity and gastritis (when the lining of the stomach becomes inflamed). He added: “He was about to start a new life and that was denied him.”
Regarding the case of the 31-year-old woman who was found unresponsive on her sitting room floor by her mother and a neighbour in late July 2021, the autopsy revealed that the deceased “had taken a number of medications recently”. These included a significant level of methadone, a separate methadone tablet, benzodiazepine and a metabolite of cocaine.
Delivering a verdict in accordance to the evidence given, Mr Goff concluded that cause of death was due to multi-drug toxicity.
After the last case had been heard, with sun streaming through the first floor windows, Mr Goff’s parting words to the family departing the chamber could hardly have proven more meaningful given the trauma that had brought them there. “Mind yourselves.”
Waterford County Coroner John Goff.