Man caring for elderly mother died after fall down stairs

Inquest hears Sean Cunningham was primary carer for his mother, who has dementia

A 46-year-old man caring for his elderly mother died when he fell down stairs after drinking, an inquest heard.

Sean Cunningham had been the primary carer for his mother, who has dementia, at the family home in Ballybrack, Co Dublin.

Described as a ‘brilliant carer’ and a loving father of three, Mr Cunningham was pronounced dead on September 13rd, 2015. Family members became concerned when they could not gain entrance to the family home at Ashlawn Park in Ballybrack, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard.

Edwina Cunningham called to the house early that morning as her brother always went to play golf on Sundays, the court heard.


She couldn’t open the door. Her partner John Daly said he looked through the window and saw a body at the bottom of the stairs.

“Edwina always minds her mum on Sunday’s because Sean plays golf,” he said. Mr Daly said he kicked in the front door but the man was cold and he knew he was dead.

Garda David Moloney arrived at the scene at about 11am and said there were two paramedics and a doctor already present.

The man was pronounced dead at 11.10am and removed to Loughlinstown Hospital for postmortem. The cause of death was cranio-cerebral trauma due to a fall. A toxicology report found Mr Cunningham had a blood alcohol level of 242mg per 100ml.

The man’s sister Christine saw her brother the previous day and said he’d gone out with a friend the previous afternoon. She said he returned at about 8.30pm but his bed was not slept in. “He was brilliant, a great carer. We didn’t realise how much he did for her (their mother) until he was gone,” she said.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane returned a verdict of death by misadventure, the risk factors were alcohol and stairs. "You don't have to fall that far. You can cause quite a lot of damage falling down just a steps," the coroner said.