Open verdict on Garda sergeant suffering from Huntington’s who drowned in Liffey

Originally from Co Offaly, Sergeant Padraig Moran was attached to Mountjoy Garda station

Matt Talbot Bridge in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Matt Talbot Bridge in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

A Garda sergeant suffering from Huntington’s disease drowned in the River Liffey, an inquest has heard.

Sgt Padraig Moran (48), of Castleknock, Dublin 15, worked at the scenes of crime unit attached to Mountjoy Garda station.

A father of three originally from Gurteen, Co Offaly, he was a member of the Offaly under 21s football team which won the All-Ireland in 1988. He died on October 5th, 2015.

Two years before his death, Sgt Moran was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, a neurodegenerative condition that leads to cognitive, emotional and physical symptoms including involuntary movements.

Mr Moran joined An Garda Síochána in 1990, his widow Fiona Moran told Dublin Coroner’s Court.

He loved his work and embraced it, she said. He was looking forward to the Offaly county final on October 11th, 2015, as the All-Ireland winning panel he was a member of was due to be celebrated.

‘Treated them as friends’

“He found [work] a great challenge, he got on well with everyone at work and treated them as friends, not subordinates. We told each other everything,” she said.

“He always faced his problems and dealt with them. He was the most positive person.”

Sgt Moran was at Dublin Coroner’s Court on the morning of his death for an inquest at 11am. CCTV footage showed him leaving the court and crossing to Store Street Garda station where he appeared not to be able to remember the Garda access code.

In the weeks before his death, he’d begun to display “out of character” behaviour, and his widow said she had been getting worried about him.

An involuntary movement caused him to knock a drink in a restaurant and he was embarrassed, the court heard.

On the morning of his death, witness Jacqueline Stone was crossing Matt Talbot bridge, a few paces behind a man she later became aware was Sgt Moran.

“All of a sudden, he appeared to throw a blue folder over the bridge and then just held on to the railing and went over. It all happened so fast,” she said.

His body was later recovered from the river and death was pronounced at the scene at 3pm. The cause of death was drowning and the toxicology analysis was negative for alcohol and drugs.

Expert witness

Investigating officer Inspector Des McTiernan said he contacted expert witnesses in relation to Huntington’s and said the disease could cause a sufferer to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do.

“We all looked up to Padraig, he was a strong, reasonable, outstanding member of An Garda Síochána,” Insp McTiernan said.

Taking note of Sgt Moran’s diagnosis and documented behaviour, coroner Dr Brian Farrell returned an open verdict.