Inquest witness says dead woman was "brainwashed"


An Australian hospital attendant, who committed suicide two months ago, had gone to "healing workshops", Dublin County Coroners Court heard yesterday.

Ms Joanne Pace (38), Manor Road, Palmerstown, Dublin, hanged herself from a bannister on March 27th. The County Coroner, Dr Kieran Geraghty, returned a verdict of suicide with the cause of death asphyxia.

Garda Niall Sheridan told the inquest he had called to the house on that date.

Mr Patrick Murphy, a house-mate of the deceased, said Ms Pace worked nights in Cherry Orchard Hospital and had become withdrawn in the months leading up to her death. He had found her crying in the sitting-room on March 17th and she had said he couldn't help her.

On the morning of March 27th, Mr Murphy had woken up and seen a flex hanging from the bannister. He cut Ms Pace down and called the gardaí.

Ms Rosaleen Bardon, a care attendant at Cherry Orchard Hospital, said she had picked up Ms Pace from Dublin Airport three years ago when she started work in the hospital. Ms Pace had been very popular in work but had begun to withdraw into herself from January. Ms Pace went to healing workshops but they were "a cult of some sort". Ms Bardon said: "This group changed Joanne in some way. Joanne was brainwashed by this group."

Ms Irja Karjalainen said she was a sponsor with Don Hanson workshops. Ms Pace had attended three or four of their groups; suicide was not promoted by the group.

She told Dr Geraghty she had communicated with a "divine being" called Michael and she was in communication with spirits all the time. Suicide had been discussed by the group, but she said she had no strong feelings on euthanasia .

Ms Helen Hand said she had attended the last workshop with Ms Pace about a month before her death. She had never heard suicide encouraged in the group but she believed in Michael and in his messenger, Shari.

Summarising the post-mortem, Dr Geraghty said Ms Pace had a plastic flex wound around her neck. He gave the cause of death as asphyxia due to hanging with a verdict of suicide.

He extended sympathy to her family and friends.