Witness tells inquest of 'force' in Rossiter arrest


The inquest into the death of 14-year-old schooboy Brian Rossiter today heard from a witness who said she saw gardai using force when they arrested Brian and another youth on the night before he was found unconscious in Clonmel Garda station.

Annmarie Hannigan told Cork City Coroners Court in evidence she was with her friend, Edel Sheehan, when saw Brian being arrested by gardai at about 9pm on September 10th 2002 on suspicion of having committed a public order offence.

Ms Hannigan said she and Ms Sheehan were on Mitchel Street when she heard some roaring and shouting and three young fellows, Brian Rossiter, Anthony O’Sullivan and Daniel Leahy came running up the street.

Brian Rossiter and Anthony O’Sullivan both had two-litre bottles of cider and all three were drunk and disorderly, said Ms Hannigan.

She added she later saw Daniel Leahy’s father Martin trying to calm him down and take him home.

Mr Leahy had asked them to ring the gardai for help and Ms Sheehan rang the Garda station and spoke to a female member. Within minutes a garda, whom she didn’t name, arrived on the scene and, with assistance from Mr Leahy, arrested Daniel Leahy.

Garda Tom Phelan came in a patrol car and took Daniel Leahy away in the car while the other unnamed garda went off after Brian Rossiter and Anthony O’Sullivan who had gone on to Gladstone Street towards Marystone Mall, said Ms Hannigan.

Garda Padraig Jennings also arrived and he arrested Anthony O’Sullivan and the other garda arrested Brian near the Piper Inn, said Ms Hannigan.

She said both officers had the two youths grabbed from behind with their hands help up behind their backs.

“There was nothing happened between Brian Rossiter and Anthony O’Sullivan and the gardai at the Piper Inn ... the gardai did not hit anyone at Marystone Mall or the Piper Inn,” said Ms Hannigan in her statement which was read to the inquest jury.

However, Ms Hannigan said that some things that she had said to gardai had not been included in her statement.

“They [the gardai] were using force, they were rough when Brian and Anthony were trying to get away,” she said in her direct evidence to the inquest.

Earlier, the inquest heard from a GP, Dr Bernie Rouse, who told how she was in her surgery on Emmet Street near Clonmel Garda station on September 11th 2002 when she received a call between 9.15am and 9.30am to say gardai were having difficulty rousing a prisoner.

She hurried across to the Garda station where her colleague, Dr Ann Mulrooney and nurse Anita O’Carroll were carrying out cardiac massage on Brian Rossiter who was lying on the floor outside a cell.

There were also a number of gardai in attendance, she said.

“I was quite shocked and I wondered was he alive or dead - he was totally still - there was no movement whatsoever - he was warm and there was a sense of not knowing what had happened, what we were dealing with,” said Dr Rouse.

Dr Rouse said she assisted Dr Mulrooney and Ms O’Carroll in carrying out full cardio pulmonary resuscitation and she began to feel a pulse even though Brian did not start breathing spontaneously.

Brian had two black eyes with surrounding bruising but she didn’t see any abrasions on the left side of his face though that wasn’t to say that it wasn’t there, said Dr Rouse, adding that there was also bruising on his chest wall.

Cross-examined by Aidan Doyle BL, a barrister representing the Rossiters, Dr Rouse said Brian’s top had been removed but he was clothed from the waist down so she didn’t see any purple bruising to his penis.

She said she remembered Dr Mulrooney saying she had seen vomit when she arrived and she had cleared Brian’s airways before commencing mouth to mouth resuscitation to try and get Brian breathing again.

“I was aware that there were gardai around when we were putting up drips - they were giving assistance - we were all a bit panicked,” said Dr Rouse who had earlier said she hadn’t expected to be walking in on such a serious situation.