Call for Garda training after man dies during restraint
THE JURY at an inquest into the death of man who was restrained by gardaí during a drugs search at his home has called for ongoing training for gardaí, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and restraint techniques.
David O’Mahoney (22), McSwiney Villas, Gurranabraher, Cork city was restrained by gardaí and placed in handcuffs while they were carrying out a planned search at his home on the evening of November 14th, 2007.
He became unwell and suffered a seizure after the handcuffs had been placed on him and was pronounced dead at Cork University Hospital that night.
A jury of four men and four women at Cork City Coroner’s Court found that the 22-year-old father of one died of cocaine, alcohol and lignocaine intoxication during restraint.
The jury recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.
In a summary of nine days of evidence by the coroner Dr Myra Cullinane, the court heard that gardaí entered Mr O’Mahoney’s home just before 7.30pm with a warrant to carry out a search.
Gardaí told how he became agitated and aggressive during the search and a decision was made to place him in handcuffs.
Mr O’Mahoney, who was on the couch, resisted being handcuffed and a number of gardaí assisted to allow the placing of the second handcuff.
He suffered a seizure and later a second seizure after gardaí had removed the handcuffs and placed him in the recovery position.
A postmortem by assistant state pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster found a number of minor injuries on Mr O’Mahoney’s body at autopsy, which were consistent with injuries due to restraint, but were not sufficient to cause death.
Dr Bolster said the primary cause of death was “the drugs” and that the stress of the handcuffs was likely to have caused increases in fight or flight hormones . . . and lactic acidosis (where lactic acid builds up in the bloodstream faster than it can be removed) which would have added to the effects of the cocaine.
Consultant forensic pathologist Dr Richard Shepherd, who is based in the UK, said the struggle was a factor in the death but there was no evidence to indicate excessive restraint had been applied.
A file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions by the Garda Ombudsman Commission and no prosecutions were directed.
Speaking outside the court after the inquest his mother Noreen O’Mahoney said: “It took a long time, but I think that everything did come out.” She said it had been very hard.