Dunnes revises procedures after woman dies in toilets overnight

Inquest hears woman entered toilet after they were checked but before store was locked

The manager of Dunnes Stores on Patrick Street in Cork said   the store had introduced much tighter checking procedures and put locks on the main toilet doors so no one can enter after they’ve been checked for the evening after a woman who was locked in the store overnight died last April.

The manager of Dunnes Stores on Patrick Street in Cork said the store had introduced much tighter checking procedures and put locks on the main toilet doors so no one can enter after they’ve been checked for the evening after a woman who was locked in the store overnight died last April.

 

Dunnes Stores has revised their lock-up procedures after a woman died overnight in a toilet in one of their stores after staff failed to properly check the premises before closing, an inquest has heard.

Mother of four Mary Mullaney (64) was found dead in the toilets of Dunnes Stores in Patrick Street in Cork on the morning of April 25th last after she went into a cubicle and ended up being locked in the store overnight, Cork City Coroner’s Court was told.

The inquest heard from Dunnes Stores general manager Declan Flanagan that the store had introduced much tighter checking procedures and put locks on the main toilet doors so no one can enter after they’ve been checked for the evening before the shop closes.

He said procedures in place at the time should have been sufficient to ensure Ms Mullaney would have been discovered, but they weren’t adhered to on the night in question and the company had since revised its procedures.

These include an increase in the number of places that are checked, the frequency of checks and a requirement that more management are involved in signing off on the checks. Locks have also been installed on the external toilet doors, he said.

The inquest heard evidence from Garda Caroline Lambert that Ms Mullaney was seen entering the Dunnes Stores at 6.50pm on April 24th and going into the supermarket, where she bought a bottle of vodka and a bottle of Lucozade.

Cafe manager Sabrina Murphy said the cafe closed at 5.30pm and some tables and chairs were put across the entrance to the toilets along with a yellow man sign to say it was closed. Ms Mullaney moved the tables and made her way into the toilets around 7pm.

Ms Murphy checked the toilets earlier but she didn’t see Ms Mullaney emerge and it wasn’t her job to check on the toilets. She continued with some paper work before leaving around 8pm, Ms Murphy told the inquest.

Cleaner Joanne Crowley told how she noticed one of the cubicle doors was shut when she went to clean the toilets the next morning at 6.35am and she notified her supervisor, Charlene Crowley, who in turn alerted store management.

Security manager Mark Flynn told gardai in a statement he found Ms Mullaney slumped against the door of the cubicle and he moved her away from the door. He could get no pulse but she was warm and he performed CPR on her until emergency services arrived.

John Morrison of Cork City Fire Brigade told how he and a colleague performed CPR on Ms Mullaney for 20 to 30 minutes without success, and she was pronounced dead by a local GP at 8.05am on April 25th.

A post-mortem by pathologist Prof Nollaig Parfrey revealed Ms Mullaney had a blood alcohol concentration of 424mgs per 100 mls of blood and that she died as a result of acute alcohol intoxication, the inquest heard.

Cork City coroner Dr Myra Cullinane returned a verdict of misadventure after hearing from Sgt Fergus Twomey that gardai were satisfied there was no foul play involved. She extended her sympathies to Ms Mullaney’s family on the loss of “a much loved wife and mother”.