Woman (22) lay in coma for hours before dying in Cork squat

Adam O’Keeffe on trial for murder of Amy McCarthy on Sheares Street in April 2017

Adam O’Keeffe denies the murder but admits the manslaughter of Amy McCarthy on April 29th or 30th, 2017. File photograph: Cork Courts Limited.

Adam O’Keeffe denies the murder but admits the manslaughter of Amy McCarthy on April 29th or 30th, 2017. File photograph: Cork Courts Limited.

 

A 22-year-old woman lay alive in a coma for at least four hours after being assaulted and strangled by her boyfriend in a squat in Cork city centre, a murder trial has heard.

Amy McCarthy, a mother of one from Greenmount in Cork, later died from factors including blunt force trauma to the head, manual strangulation and acute alcohol intoxication after being assaulted by Adam O’Keeffe, the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork heard.

Mr O’Keeffe, with an address c/o St Vincent’s Hostel, Cork, has denied murdering Ms McCarthy on April 29th or April 30th, 2017 at a building on Sheares Street but has admitted to her manslaughter.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster told the trial she found extensive evidence of bruising all over Ms McCarthy’s body as well as on her face, scalp and neck. She had not suffered any fractures and the bruising was not consistent with any weapons being used.

Haemorrhage

Dr Bolster said the blunt force trauma to the head resulted in a subdural haemorrhage in the brain where she found a blood clot weighing 50g. She said such blood clots usually only became fatal in isolation if they grow to weigh 100g or more but there was a combination of factors at play in this case which led to Ms McCarthy’s death.

These included evidence of manual strangulation to her neck, which would have reduced oxygen flows to her brain resulting in hypoxia, and acute alcohol intoxication which depressed the central nervous system significantly.

The pathologist said blood test showed an alcohol concentration of 253mg per 100ml of blood, which was the equivalent of seven or eight pints of beer or seven or eight large glasses of wine. Urine tests showed an alcohol concentration of 400mg per 100ml.

Dr Bolster said the discrepancy between the blood alcohol concentration and the urine alcohol concentration allied with signs of nerve changes in Ms McCarthy’s brain. This finding led her to consult with neuro-pathologist, Dr Niamh Bermingham, who suggested the discrepancy could been due to the fact that Ms McCarthy was still alive after the assault and her body was continuing to metabolise her alcohol intake.

Dr Bolster said that based on the rate at which the body metabolises alcohol, it appeared that Ms McCarthy was alive but in a coma for between four and eight hours but more likley four hours.

Dr Bolster agreed with Brendan Grehan SC, defending, that it could have appeared as if Ms McCarthy was in a deep sleep after the assault but was actually slipping deeper and deeper into a coma until she eventually died.