'He was the most romantic man in Ireland': Kerry man died by suicide after 'relentless bullying at work'

A coroner wants a building firm to outline its anti-bullying policy after the widow of a man who took his own life at work said he had been subjected to relentless bullying.

The coroner for North Cork, Dr Michael Kennedy, adjourned the inquest into the death of John Broderick, from Killarney, County Kerry, at the Munster Joinery plant in North Cork on August 28 last, after hearing harrowing evidence from Mr Broderick’s devastated wife, Sandra.

In moving testimony, she said John had been subjected to bullying by a named individual at the firm since he started work there.

File photo of Sandra Russell showing off her medal and engagement ring with her then-boyfriend John Broderick after he had proposed to her after both had completed the Cork City Marathon. Picture Des Barry
File photo of Sandra Russell showing off her medal and engagement ring with her then-boyfriend John Broderick after he had proposed to her after both had completed the Cork City Marathon. Picture Des Barry

The inquest also heard that Mr Broderick had presented at University Hospital Kerry the day before his death after attempting suicide but was deemed well enough to leave its emergency department (ED) and return to work, despite scoring zero in a test where 0 is sad and 10 is happy.

Dr Kennedy said he will ask the building supplies firm for its anti-bullying policy and ask if it was aware of the alleged bullying, and he will also write to the hospital to follow up on a psychiatric report following Mr Broderick’s presentation to its ED on August 27, before he adjourned proceedings until next year.

John proposed to Sandra on the finish line of the 2011 Cork City Marathon after they both ran the race. John ran it carrying the engagement ring he bought in America.

Mrs Broderick, who described him at the time as the “most romantic man in Ireland” wept as her moving deposition, which was read into the record at the inquest earlier this week, explained how John had good days and bad days. But she said John told the alleged bully that he suffered from depression and pleaded for the “mind games” and bullying to stop.

“He thought by telling him he would leave him alone but that only stopped for about a week and then it was just back to normal,” she said, adding that John told her he had been “roared at” in front of colleagues and had felt belittled. She said he came home from work in tears some days.

“He could go to work really happy and he could come home crying."

She said he had tried to deal with it in his own way and how he felt it was better to be busy, opting to “just keep putting up with it” until he could find other work.

She recalled how on August 28 she got a phone call from John to say 'goodbye', and fearing for his safety, she made her way to the factory where she was later told that he had died. His body was later identified by his brother, Tommy, who also works at Munster Joinery.

Two days before his death, Ms Broderick said John left their home, on August 26, on his own and she contacted gardaí, worried that he was suicidal. She managed to persuade him to meet her at a car park in Tralee with Garda John Daly who hugged John and reassured him that people were there for him.

There was an empty paracetamol packet in the jeep. John became agitated when it was suggested he seek medical help so they went home, before their GP, Dr Eimear Gill, referred John to the hospital emergency department the next day.

But Ms Broderick said she felt John had lied in some of his answers to the hospital doctor so he could leave.

    If you or someone you know has been affected by mental health issues you can contact:

  • Samaritans - 116 123, text 087 2609090 or email jo@samaritans.ie
  • Pieta House (Suicide & Self-harm) - 1800 247 247 or 01 623 5606
  • Aware (Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder & Anxiety) - 1800 80 48 48
  • Grow (Mental Health support & Recovery) - 1890 474 474
  • Bodywhys (Eating Disorders Associations of Ireland) - 1890 200 444
  • Childline (for under 18s) - 1800 66 66 66

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