Police offer reward over man's murder


The London Metropolitan Police are offering a reward of £8,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the murder of Mr Martin Lavelle (48), from Achill Island, Co Mayo - 11 months after he was mugged in north-west London.

Mr Lavelle's death on January 22nd caused a furore in the National Health Service after health groups joined MPs and the Hornsey coroner, Dr William Dolman, in condemning the manner in which he had been treated after his assault.

Despite having severe head injuries he spent 11 days in the Central Middlesex Hospital before being transported for emergency treatment on January 17th to the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, where he died some days later.

On January 27th the London Evening Standard splashed the headline on its front page, "No London Bed for Dying Man: Mugging victim is driven 70 miles - now it's murder".

Dr Dolman told the inquest: "I have no doubt that he received care, but it's extraordinary that a gravely ill man has to travel over 70 miles from London to Oxford to get an intensive-care bed. As coroner, I express shock and surprise." The National Health Service confirmed that there were five hospitals in London with neurological facilities capable of treating the injured man.

Mr Lavelle (48), from Cabaun, Keel, Achill, was assaulted near his London home in Meyrick Street on January 4th, Det Chief Insp William Chambers told the inquest. He had been drinking at a local pub, Tony's Bar. "He left the bar at around 11 p.m. and was making his way to his home which was not far from the bar."

A friend later found Mr Lavelle, a steel fitter, slumped in the road, with another man crouching nearby, said DCI Chambers: "The friend assumed he had been robbed and challenged this person, who then ran off." He said the Achill man was helped into the hallway of his home by his friend, who left after being told he was "fine".

Two days later friends broke in and found him seriously ill. He was admitted to the Central Middlesex Hospital.

At home in Achill last night, his brother, Patrick, recalled the shock the family had received on hearing of Martin's death: "We were on the phone to the Central Middlesex Hospital every day and they kept telling us that he probably had had a belt on the head, but that he would be fine." The family could not understand why an emergency bed could not have been found for their brother.

Mr Lavelle's two sisters, Ms Mary Cafferkey and Ms Anne Preston, will attend a press briefing today in London.