Jury returns verdict of death by misadventure in Castlebar arrest death case

Patrick O’Donnell died after altercation outside Mayo nightclub

Garda at Cox’s Bar, Castlebar, Co Mayo. Photograph: Keith Heneghan/Phocus

Garda at Cox’s Bar, Castlebar, Co Mayo. Photograph: Keith Heneghan/Phocus


A jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure yesterday on a 39-year-old man from Co Mayo who died last June after being arrested outside a nightclub in Castlebar.

Patrick O’Donnell from Achill Sound, was asked to leave Cox’s Bar & Restaurant after getting sick there.

But an altercation with doormen occurred outside the premises and Mr O’Donnell, an unemployed carpenter, was restrained on the ground until two gardaí arrived and arrested him.

When the gardaí arrived at Castlebar Garda station the arrested man was found to be “unresponsive”.

Mr O’Donnell, a single man with a four-year-old daughter, could not be revived and was pronounced dead a short time later at Mayo General Hospital.

After a hearing lasting two days, the jury yesterday returned a misadventure verdict. They also included three recommendations aimed at preventing the recurrence of such deaths.

The first recommendation was that in similar circumstances in future when gardaí arrive at a scene, if a person is unresponsive, professional medical assistance should be immediately sought.

Secondly, the jury advised that all gardaí be trained in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and that all Garda stations be equipped with defibrillators.

Thirdly, the jury urged that all security staff be trained in first aid.

As Mr O’Donnell’s death had occurred while he was in Garda custody the Office of the Garda Ombudsman carried out a full investigation.

Following the investigation, the Director of Public Prosecutions decided there should be no prosecutions.

Medical evidence was given on the first day of the inquest that Mr O’Donnell was obese, weighing 19 stone, and he suffered from a serious heart condition.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis said the cause of death was coronary artery atheroma and cardiomegaly (an enlarged heart) in a situation of excitement and physical struggle.

Coroner John O’Dwyer commented that even with an enlarged heart Mr O’Donnell should not necessarily have died and he was concerned that similar deaths be prevented in the future.