Rossiter family seeking answers over son's death

 

The public inquiry announced today into the death of a 14-year-old boy who died after falling into a coma in Garda custody has many questions to answer, his father said tonight.

Pat Rossiter said that after three years of silence, the family were desperate to find out what had happened on the night their son Brian was held at Clonmel Garda station.

“First I want to know why Brian was arrested, what the circumstances of his arrest and detention were and what really happened in the Garda station,” he said. He added: “We want to know why myself and Brian's mother, were told he had been on a four or five day binge of drink and drugs when the toxicology reports suggested he had no drink or drugs taken.”

Brian Rossiter was taken into custody in Clonmel Garda Station on September 10 2002 on suspicion of public order offences. He had been involved in a row two days previously which had left him with two black eyes and a headache. But he was found comatose in his cell the following morning and died two days later in hospital.

The Minister for

Justice Michael McDowell has appointed Hugh Hartnett, an experienced barrister, to investigate all the circumstances surrounding the arrest, treatment and detention of Brian Rossiter in Clonmel Garda Station in September 2002.

He made his decision after reviewing the case investigation file he received from the Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy 10 days ago.

A spokesman for Mr McDowell confirmed that he had written yesterday to the solicitors hired by the teenager's family to apologise for his department's inadequate response to correspondence they had sent last year.

Although the terms of reference of the inquiry into his death have not been set, the Department of Justice have indicated to the family that it may operate under the 1924 Dublin Police Act.

This would give the inquiry the power to compel any witness to attend, such as retired members of the gardai.

Solicitor Cian O'Carroll said an inquiry of this type would be a major breakthrough for the Rossiter family. “It allows them to embark on a whole new aspect on what up to now has been a fruitless quest for info on how their son died,” he said.

Mr Rossiter told RTE radio he had been asked by gardaí for permission to keep Brian overnight after he was arrested.

“I discussed it over his mother over the phone and it was decided that it was probably the best thing at the time to give Brian a shock.”

He described his son as soccer crazy teenager who idolised Roy Keane and Manchester United.

“He just ate, slept and drank football. From the time he was old enough to get out and walk, he used to sit down and watch the older lads playing.”