The mother of a young man who died following an assault in his apartment nine years ago said her son’s death has left the family “in tatters” as she pleaded with witnesses to tell her what happened.
Vincent Maher (29) sustained extensive injuries in a violent assault which is believed to have taken place during a party in his home in Springmount Apartments on Wellmount Road, Finglas, in the early hours of January 11th, 2014.
At an inquest into his death in Dublin on Thursday morning, a number of statements by witnesses were read into the record, detailing the events of the night on which the father of one died.
According to three of the witnesses at the party, a group of people attended a gathering in Mr Maher’s apartment on January 11th, 2014, from about 1am.
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Attendees were drinking, smoking weed and doing drugs throughout the night, the witnesses said, while people danced and sang along to music.
At about 3am, two more people attended the party, and “everything was perfect until about 5am”, two witnesses’ statements said.
At about 5am, one man left the party for about five or 10 minutes, and when he returned he said he had been “battered”. The witnesses said the man had no marks on him other than muck on his hands, and the other people at the party didn’t believe he had been attacked.
An argument then broke out between some of the men, the witnesses said, prompting them to leave the party.
Nathan Harold, who was also at the party, and who is currently serving time in prison for attacking and robbing a man a number of years ago, was brought to the inquiry from custody.
Asked about the night in question, he said: “I don’t want to answer any questions or answers.”
Harold was interrupted by Mr Maher’s mother Tina, who called out to him: “Please Nathan, I beg you, please tell me what happened to Vincent.”
“I do not know what happened to Vincent Maher. Honest to god, I cannot remember. It was nine years ago, I can’t really remember. I was intoxicated, I was on coke, I was on everything,” Harold replied.
Linda McEvoy, the landlady, found Mr Maher’s body at about 11am that morning when she went to speak to him following a noise complaint from another tenant.
When she arrived, she noticed the music was playing loudly, there was broken glass in the hallway, “blood all over the sittingroom, the place was in bits”, Ms McEvoy said.
The door to the master bedroom was open, she said, and she saw a man lying on the bed.
Mr Maher was lying face down, his top and the sole of one shoe were bloodstained and when she touched his shoulder to see if he was okay she realised he wasn’t breathing. She called emergency services, who then attended the scene.
Appearing at the inquest via Zoom, Marie Cassidy, the State pathologist who carried out the postmortem on Mr Maher, said there was an absence of a single conclusive cause of death.
Mr Maher had extensive bruising over his body, a fractured nose, significant internal haemorrhaging and bruises that would suggest he was stamped on.
Dr Cassidy said his cause of death was a combination of multiple force blunt trauma to head, trunk and limbs, inhalation of blood, alcohol and diazepam intoxication and positional asphyxia, which occurs when a person is placed in a posture that prevents or impedes normal breathing.
Speaking at the hearing, the victim’s mother said January 11th, 2014, is “a date we will never forget”.
“It left us in tatters, totally devastated. To wait nine years to find out how [he died] is so much to endure. Vincent was my only son, the youngest of three. His two big sisters are so heartbroken,” she said.
“I might as well have died that day. They killed me that day. A lot of my life has been blank since then. Without him, it’s horrible. I have his ashes at home, he didn’t want to go into the ground. I gave him his wish. I have his ashes at home and I talk to him everyday. At the end of every day we have a little conversation. I ask him to give me strength.”
After the inquest, Ms Maher said she received answers to two of her questions, about whether he felt pain at the time of death and if he could have been saved if an ambulance was called. Despite these answers, she said the inquest had not given her any closure.
A jury of seven people returned a narrative verdict, which records the factual circumstances of a death.
The inquest was originally due to take place in January but was adjourned because a number of witnesses who had been issues summonses had failed to attend the hearing.
Detective inspector Bronagh O’Reilly said the investigation remained open and any new lines of inquiry would be investigated and brought to the attention of the Director of Public Prosecutions.