Gardaí properly dealt with man who later died, inquest hears

Inquiry found officers had no case to answer over death of man who collapsed in Garda van

A Gsoc investigation into the actions of gardaí when arresting a father-of-two who later took ill and died in hospital found that they had no criminal case to answer, an inquest has heard.

Richard Gomm, an investigator with Gsoc, told the inquest into the death of Kevin Meehan (39) that Gsoc had interviewed both Garda Jean Twomey and Garda John Harrington who arrested Mr Meehan at Mayfield in Cork on December 20th, 2011.

Gsoc had also interviewed several witnesses to the arrest as well as other gardaí who dealt with Mr Meehan, who was agitated and had to be restrained with handcuffs. He was placed in the back of a Garda patrol van where he was found collapsed a minute later.

Gsoc also examined garda notebooks on the arrest and had submitted a detailed file on the matter to the DPP on October 13th, 2014. Just under two months later on December 12th, the DPP directed that there be no prosecution in the case, he said.

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Mr Gomm also told Cork City Coroner’s Court that Gsoc had not identified any breaches of the Garda Disciplinary Code by gardaí in the manner in which they had arrested Mr Meehan under the Mental Health Act and the arrest was warranted in the circumstances.

Gardaí had been alerted when a local resident, Patricia McGill found Mr Meehan, who lived in Dunard, Lotamore in Mayfield, in a highly agitated state in the garden of her house at around 1am on December 20th.

Mr Meehan had been roaring and shouting that “they’re going to get me” and when gardaí arrived, they found him inside Ms McGill’s shed, bleeding badly from a gash on his arm after smashing the shed window with his fist.

The two gardaí tried to calm him down but he ran towards the back door of the house where he fell. They tried to restrain him with Garda Harrington putting one knee on his thigh while holding one arm and Garda Twomey grabbing his other arm.

It was only when three other gardaí arrived that they were able to handcuff him and put him in the back of a Garda patrol van but they noticed a minute later that he had collapsed so they removed him from the van, removed the handcuffs and put him in the recovery position.

Resuscitated

A HSE ambulance crew arrived and performed CPR and resuscitated him and he was taken to the Mercy University Hospital but he collapsed again and was admitted to the hospital's intensive care unit where he died at 9.15pm that night – some 17 hours after his arrest.

Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster said she was informed at the postmortem that Mr Meehan was a former alcoholic who had relapsed and was drinking up to 10 cans of beer a day and taking prescription medication including some not prescribed for him.

She found some bruising on his arms and legs consistent with him being restrained and he also had fractures to his ribs which were consistent with CPR being applied but trauma was not a factor in his death, she said.

She found no traces of alcohol in his system nor of any illegal drugs but she found traces of anti-depressant medicines, Duloxetine and Amitriptyline, slightly above and below the therapeutic levels but nowhere near fatal levels.

She said that it was “a most difficult and complex case” with the death being caused by cardiac arrest due to what in the medical literature is known as excited delirium which in this case occurred following restraint but was not due to restraint.

The jury returned a narrative verdict outlining the nature of the arrest and cause of death and Cork City Coroner, Philip Comyn was joined by Mr Gomm Supt Mick Comyns in sympathising with Mr Meehan's family on their loss.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times