Man found dead after going to walk dogs in Dublin mountains was unlawfully killed

Inquest into death of Michael McCoy (64) hears file submitted to the DPP resulted in no charges

Catriona McCoy with her  daughters (l-r) Rachel, Suzanne and Sarah McCoy  outside Dublin Coroner’s Court. Photograph: Louise Roseingrave

Catriona McCoy with her daughters (l-r) Rachel, Suzanne and Sarah McCoy outside Dublin Coroner’s Court. Photograph: Louise Roseingrave

 

A verdict of unlawful killing has been returned into the death of a father of three found unresponsive in the Dublin mountains after he went there to walk his two dogs.

Conservationist Michael McCoy (64) of Ballinascorney Upper, Brittas, Co Dublin was found dead at Blackhill Forest in the mountains on September 30th 2016.

He was last seen alive at 6.40am in the family home on September 29th 2016 by his wife and daughter Suzanne before they went to work.

He usually walked his two dogs, Sophie and Fia in the Blackhill Forest, a ten minute drive away, between 7.30am and 8am, an inquest into his death heard. Family grew concerned after returning from work to find the chickens had not been let out of the coop. They alerted gardaí after conducting their own initial search of the woods.

Gardaí at the scene in the Dublin mountains where the remains of Michael McCoy were found. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Gardaí at the scene in the Dublin mountains where the remains of Michael McCoy were found. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Mountain rescue volunteer Brendan Beirne located the man’s body on a forest track at 5.30am on September 30th. “The dog was at the feet of its owner. I could tell the dog was in a distressed state. The man was lying on his back with his hands on his chest,” he said.

Death was pronounced at the scene at 7.49am. Closer inspection of the man’s injuries, initially thought to have been the result of a fall, prompted a full forensic post-mortem.

Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan found he had sustained complex fractures of the skull and facial bones and numerous irregular cuts and grazes. The injuries were consistent with blunt force trauma to the head during an assault due to blows from a solid object. The cause of death was blunt force trauma to the face and head.

Detective Inspector John Walshe said a file was submitted to the Director of Public Prosecution but there was insufficient evidence to bring charges. The investigation remains open.

The jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing by a person or persons unknown.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane sympathised with the family. “It’s been so very hard for you, he was a highly respected man in the areas he had an interest,” the coroner said.

Afterwards his wife Catriona McCoy and their daughters Rachel, Suzanne and Sarah appealed for any information that could help bring the family closure.

“We all miss him very much,” Mrs McCoy said.

Mr McCoy was a builder by trade with an interest in history, local politics and planning issues, his wife said. He had recently obtained a degree in History from Trinity College.

He ran the Dublin and Wicklow Conservation Group and had campaigned against a string of building developments in Dublin and Wicklow.

“He was a fine person, very passionate and caring. He had lots of interests, in history, local issues, planning, the place we had, his animals and his family,” Mrs McCoy said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Tallaght Garda Station.