Partner launches High Court challenge over inquest verdict on death of Tipperary man

Gwen Bradley and Evan Morrissey.

The partner of a man who died from a brain hemorrhage after he was sent home from hospital three times after complaining of headaches has launched a High Court challenge aimed at quashing the result of his inquest, writes Ann O'Loughlin.

The action has been brought by Gwen Bradley against Mr. Philip Comyn who in his capacity as coroner for Cork City held an inquest into the death of father of five Evan Morrissey on April 11th/12th last.

28-year old Evan Morrissey died on March 22nd 2014 at Cork University Hospital , after being transferred there from South Tipperary General Hospital some days earlier.

He had first presented at South Tipperary General Hospital on March 2nd 2014 complaining of severe headaches, but was discharged the following morning.

He returned on two further occasions before being discharged shortly afterwards. He was re admitted on March 18th to South Tipperary General Hospital after becoming very ill before being moved to Cork University Hospital, where he died.

The jury at the inquest returned a narrative verdict, which is a verdict in line with the medical evidence that Mr Morrissey died from a haemorrhage from a re-bleed from a cerebral artery aneurysm.

Ms. Bradley and Mr. Morrissey of Rosegreen, Cashel, Co Tipperary had five children together, the youngest born six months after his death.

Ms Bradley is unhappy over the manner in which the inquest was conducted, and claims the coroner limited the scope of the inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Evan's death.

Specially, she claims the inquest was not conducted in accordance with the law.

The coroner, she claims, prevented relevant evidence concerning the facts and omissions that lead to Mr Morrissey's death being put before the jury.

At the High Court Ms Bradley's barrister Patrick Tracey SC said Ms Bradley's solicitor Mr Cian O'Carroll represented Ms Bradley at the two day inquest.

Mr O'Carroll attempted to ask questions of the medical witnesses at the inquest, but was not allowed to do so by the coroner, counsel said.

Counsel said the coroner repeatedly prevented Mr O'Carroll from asking questions that strayed beyond that particular person's interaction with Evan Morrissey when the deceased was under their care.

In particular Mr O'Carroll sought to ask questions in relation to the procedures and protocols that were in place at South Tipperary General Hospital for dealing with patients with symptoms such as those exhibited by Evan.

Questions from the solicitor aimed at establishing the witness's medial opinion regarding any feature of Evan Morrissey's symptom and the medical treatment afforded to him and which strayed beyond the personal involvement of a witness were also not allowed, Counsel said.

Counsel said because of the interventions, Mr O'Carroll on instructions from Ms Bradley decided to withdraw from the inquest.

This was something which was not done lightly, Counsel added.

In her action Ms Bradley seeks an order quashing the verdict of the inquest.

She also seeks various declarations from the court including that the coroner acted ultra vires and breached both the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights in the manner in which he limited the scope of the inquiry into Mr Morrissey's death.

She further seeks a declaration that the by virtue of the manner in which the inquest was conducted the jury did not have all the relevant evidence before it when considering its verdict.

Permission to bring the action was granted, on an ex parte basis, by Mr. Justice Seamus Noonan.

The case will come back before the court in October.

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