Inquest into 2002 death gives verdict of suicide

 

DUBLIN WOMAN Rosemary Toole Gilhooley, who died in what was believed to be an assisted suicide in 2002, had travelled around the country with two men from the US in the days before she died, the inquest into her death heard yesterday.

Dublin City Coroner’s Court was told by Det Insp John J Keane that the Rev George Exoo and Thomas McGurrin, who were investigated for assisting her suicide, arrived in Ireland on January 22nd, 2002, hired a car and booked into a hotel in Temple Bar, where Toole Gilhooley (48) met them.

The next day they travelled to Wicklow with Toole Gilhooley, and then to Westport, Co Mayo, and stayed in the Atlantic Coast Hotel so Mr McGurrin could check his roots, he said.

They returned to Dublin on January 25th, 2002, and went with Toole Gilhooley to a house she had rented for a few days at 33 Donnybrook Manor in Dublin 4.

Later that night the two men checked into the Great Southern Hotel at Dublin airport and flew out of the country early the next morning.Evidence was given that Toole Gilhooley’s body was found in her bed in the rented house the next day by a garda. There were indications that she had taken her own life. A note pinned to the pocket of her pyjamas stated: “Do not resuscitate”. A similar note was on her arm.

Gardaí had been alerted after her father, who has since died, found a suicide note at their home in Dalkey.

Det Insp Keane said there was no evidence of a break-in at the rented property. Toole Gilhooley had kept her diary up to date, so they knew she had met people in the days prior to her death and that she had also been in touch with people in Scotland and Canada in relation to suicide.

“It was uppermost in her mind . . . she had carried out all the preparatory work herself,” he said.

She paid $2,500 to Rev Exoo and his partner Mr McGurrin to cover their expenses. The detective inspector said he interviewed both men in the US in October 2002 and they made no comment. But in media interviews, Rev Exoo said they were present at the house in Donnybrook when she died and left a half an hour afterwards. Efforts to have Rev Exoo extradited from the US failed in 2007, he said.

The coroner Dr Brian Farrell said he had invited Rev Exoo to attend the inquest and received a letter from him on Monday in which he thanked the coroner for “his kind invitation”. He wrote: “I have given your invitation quite a lot of thought” but said the projects he had under way were too pressing to permit him time to travel. He requested a copy of the transcript of the inquest.

Giving evidence at the inquest, Suzanne Hughes, an employee of a south Dublin property management company, said Toole Gilhooley paid for the two-bed in Donnybrook by credit card. The property was shown to Toole Gilhooley on January 10th, 2002, and she booked it for January 23rd to 26th, later requesting the booking to run from January 22nd. When she took the house on January 22nd she asked whether it was OK if a friend stayed overnight.

On January 25th she called to Ms Hughes, who was in a nearby office, to say the lock in the door was jammed. Ms Hughes said the woman, who was twice married but separated, seemed “perfectly happy” at this time. When Ms Hughes looked out and across the road she saw a man managing to open the door for her. Later, after seeing him on TV, she identified the man she had seen as the Rev Exoo.

A statement from Alexandra O’Brien, who had known Toole Gilhooley since they were in school, said she was very happy when she came to her home in 2001, saying she had contacted people on the internet about taking her own life. She said Toole Gilhooley had tried to take her own life the previous spring.

State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy, who carried out the postmortem, concluded that she died of asphyxia as a result of inhaling helium gas and due to suffocation. The level of sedatives in her body was a contributory factor in her death, she added.

Dr Farrell told the jury the woman suffered from depression and had spoken about suicide to family and friends for a long time and made “extensive and meticulous” preparations in relation to taking her own life. There was no evidence she was influenced by anybody, forced by anyone or assisted to end her life, and no evidence of homicide. Therefore, he suggested the only verdict open to them was that of death by suicide in the presence of two others. This was the verdict returned.

Toole Gilhooley’s two brothers were unable to attend the hearing, but her estranged husband James Gilhooley was there. He did not comment afterwards.