Murderer died after three years in vegetative state, inquest hears

Coroner’s court told fatality in vegetative state caused by sepsis due to pneumonia

Murderer Geoffrey Evans died in hospital from an infection after spending more than three years in a vegetative state, an inquest heard.

Evans (68) – who was being held prisoner at Arbour Hill following his conviction for his involvement in the rape and murder of two women in 1976 – died at St Mary's Hospital in the Phoenix Park on May 20th last year.

Dublin Coroner's Court heard that Evans had been rendered helpless by a stroke following a heart bypass operation at the Mater hospital on Christmas Eve, 2008. The operation was considered a success but he had the stroke the following day and never recovered.

He remained in the Mater under round-the-clock guard by two prison officers at an annual cost to the State of €900,000 until June 2010.


Temporary release
He was then granted temporary release after being medically declared in a vegetative state and electronically tagged with Arbour Hill chief officer Terry Roche visiting him fortnightly. He was transferred to St Mary's in April 2011 and remained there until his death.

Evans was on ventilation, unresponsive and entirely dependent on others following the stroke. He had several chest and urinary tract infections in the months before he died.

The postmortem found he died as a result of sepsis due to hospital- acquired pneumonia.

The court heard that the dead man’s family are UK-based and were aware that the inquest was taking place but chose not to attend. Mr Roche said that Evans had lost contact with his family while in prison.

The jury returned a narrative verdict outlining the facts.

Englishman Evans was one of Ireland's most notorious killers. Along with his accomplice John Shaw, he planned on abducting and killing a woman a week and they murdered twice before being apprehended by gardaí.

The two were being sought for questioning by UK police in connection with several rapes before coming to Ireland.

Raped repeatedly
In August 1976, they drove to Brittas Bay in Co Wicklow where they offered 23-year-old foreign exchange clerk Elizabeth Plunkett from Ringsend in Dublin a lift.

They took her to Castletimon Wood where they raped her repeatedly before she was strangled to death.

They subsequently travelled west and in early September abducted Mary Duffy. She was a 24-year-old cook who was attempting to arrange a lift home.

Ms Duffy was beaten and raped in the back of the car before Shaw and Evans drove to Ballynahinch in Connemara where she was tied to a tree for hours and repeatedly raped before being murdered.

Gardaí arrested the men later that month when their car was identified and they confessed to the murders.

Shaw remains in jail at Castlerea Prison in Co Roscommon.