Settlement of €60,000 over death of 13-year-old boy who drowned in river Liffey

Family settles two actions related to death of teenager unable to swim who jumped into river with friends

The family of a 13-year-old boy who drowned in the river Liffey when he jumped in with friends has settled two actions related to his death for €60,000.

Frank Lionel Mbelley Mekang could not swim and got into difficulties straight away and drowned despite the best efforts to save him, the High Court heard.

Senior counsel for his family, Thomas P Hogan, told the court it was “an extremely tragic accident”.

Frank, who was a member of the under-14 Usher Celtic football squad had on May 14th, 2016, played a match with his team at Memorial Park, Dublin, and later went with team friends and the volunteer coach to a nearby jetty on the Liffey at Chapelizod Road, Dublin.


Counsel said Frank was a first-year secondary school student and very bright.

“He excelled in sports and had league training and had big, big dreams,” said counsel.

Frank’s mother, Jacqueline Ogu Bessong, Naas, Kildare, sued Dublin City Council, which has responsibility for the maintenance, repair, and upkeep of the area near the jetty on the banks of the Liffey near Memorial Park, Chapelizod Road, Dublin. The settlement of both actions was against Dublin City Council.

She had also sued Usher Celtic Soccer Club, with offices at Bridgefoot Street, Dublin, which is the club where her son played football, and the volunteer coach who was with the group on that occasion. These two cases were struck out.

It was claimed against Dublin City Council that there was a failure to ensure that safety equipment, life jackets or buoyancy aids were available at or near the jetty. It was also claimed there was a failure to carry out checks or inspections to ensure these were present at the swimming location.

It was also claimed there was a failure to put up warning signs in the general vicinity of the jetty in Memorial Park and a failure to alert or warn the public of the dangers of swimming in the river Liffey at or near the jetty at Memorial Park when it knew or ought to have known it was a dangerous hazardous spot for swimming.

The council denied all the claims and contended there was contributory negligence on the boy’s part. It claimed there was a failure by the boy to have any, or any adequate, regard for his safety and a failure to have adequate regard to the fact that he could not swim.

It was claimed the boy exposed himself to a risk of injury which he knew or ought to have known.

Counsel told the High Court there were two cases before the court; a claim for nervous shock brought in the High Court by Frank’s mother and a claim brought in Circuit Court on behalf of the family over the death of the young boy. These were consolidated and had settled against the council for €60,000

Mr Hogan said the settlement represented one-third of the full value of the case. Because of the issues regarding liability, counsel said, his side believed it was a reasonable offer and amounted to €40,000 for nervous shock and €20,000 towards the claim in relation to the boy’s death.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said that this was a tragic case. He conveyed his deepest sympathy to Frank’s mother and family.