Parents of student who died by suicide want HSE to release independent report into his treatment

Parents of Galway student Jamie Costello received unreserved apology for standard of care given to him prior to his 2019 death

A mother and father have brought High Court proceedings in a bid to get answers and the release of an independent report commissioned by the Health Service Executive (HSE) into the care and treatment of their son before he died by suicide.

A mental health service unreservedly apologised for the standard of care given to student Jamie Costello when his family, 15 months ago, settled a High Court action against the HSE over his death.

Jamie (25), from Corandulla, Co Galway, was taken from the water at the Cliffs of Moher on October 1st, 2019.

At the time of his death he was a voluntary patient at the Acute Mental Health Unit at University Hospital Galway and was only supposed to leave the unit in the company of his family or occupational therapists.


It was claimed in those proceedings that Jamie, who had complex mental problems, had been granted unsupervised leave when it was known he was a suicide risk.

On September 30th, 2019, Jamie left the unit on his own for an hour which, it was claimed, was contrary to the instructions of his consultant psychiatrist. The next day Jamie again left the unit and it was claimed there was no satisfactory explanation of how he was able to leave the unit on consecutive days without the agreement of his clinician.

It was claimed the care provided to Jamie on September 30th and October 1st, 2019, was of an unacceptable standard.

His parents, Dr Alan Costello and Denise Costello, have now applied to the High Court for leave to bring a legal challenge in their bid to get the finalised external review report into Jamie’s care and treatment which was commissioned three years ago, released.

Serious concerns

Their counsel Eoin Carolan SC, instructed by Damien Tansey solicitor, told the High Court on Monday his side had very serious concerns about a desktop review now being proposed. Mr Justice Charles Meenan adjourned the matter until mid-April for mention, saying he wants a substantive response from the HSE by then.

In their judicial review proceedings they are seeking an order compelling the HSE to make the final report available to them. They are also seeking declarations that they are entitled to receive the report and that an alleged refusal to commit to releasing the final report constitutes a breach of fundamental fairness.

In her grounding affidavit, Ms Costello said they were told on February 22nd of this year that the final report had not been accepted by the Serious Incident Management Review team. A desktop review that would identify any further actions that may mitigate against the recurrence of the tragic events of October 1st, 2019, would be commissioned, they were allegedly told.

The recommendations of the desktop review would be shared with the Costellos, it is claimed.

Mrs Costello said she and her husband were “devastated to learn this unexpected news regarding the apparent abandonment of the independent review process”.

“It adds to the already unacceptable levels of delay we have been experiencing in receiving answers about our son’s death,” she said, adding that they were shocked by the lack of information provided as the reason for the change of direction.

“It is particularly hurtful we have not been provided with the basic courtesy of clear information about a process in which we are so invested and for which we have waited so long,” she added.

The case will come back before the court on April 17th.