Teenager was stabbed to death while on his phone, inquest hears

Reece Cullen (17) stabbed at house in Tallaght where he was staying following his mother’s death

Gardaí at the scene of the fatal stabbing of Reece Cullen (17) in Kilclare Cresent, Tallaght in January 2017. Photograph: Collins

Gardaí at the scene of the fatal stabbing of Reece Cullen (17) in Kilclare Cresent, Tallaght in January 2017. Photograph: Collins

 

A teenager stabbed to death in the Tallaght area of Dublin was on the phone when he was fatally wounded, an inquest has heard.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard Reece Cullen (17) sustained a single stab wound to the heart on January 5th 2017 after a number of youths arrived at Kilclare Crescent, Tallaght, at 2.45pm.

The teenager had been staying at Kilclare Crescent with friends since the death of his mother the previous September.

A detective told the court 110 lines of inquiry were opened by gardaí, 88 statements were taken and three arrests were made. A file was submitted to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) but no charges were brought.

Neighbour John Sutcliffe noticed the group as he worked on a car in his driveway, he said.

“There were three or four males, all aged between 16 and 19,” he said. “I heard only general chit chat, there was no shouting or anything to make me look over.”

Minutes later a youth came into his driveway asking for help. “He said, ‘my mate has been stabbed, can you ring an ambulance?’ His hands were covered in blood,” Mr Sutcliffe said.

He phoned emergency services and ran to the house where the 17-year-old lay injured in the hallway. “He was lying on the ground a couple of feet inside the front door,” Mr Sutcliffe told the court.

Dublin Fire Brigade responded to a call at 3.05pm. Paramedic Noel Keegan found the teenager unresponsive.

“He was not breathing and he appeared to have a stab wound to the chest,” Mr Keegan said.

The injured youth was transferred to Tallaght Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan conducted an autopsy and found a single stab wound had penetrated his heart. A toxicology report found he had no alcohol or drugs in his system.

Detective Inspector John Walshe said a couple of youths were at the address at the time of the stabbing. “One youth had arrived while Reece Cullen was on the phone and he was fatally stabbed,” he said.

A single perpetrator was responsible for Mr Cullen’s death, he added.

The file on the case remains open.

Addressing the jury of four women and four men, Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said there was only one verdict open to them in this situation.

“The evidence though tragic and stark, is very clear in relation to the findings you have to make,” she said. The jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing by a person unknown.