Six-day search for missing son Jack was 'torture', father tells inquest

By Gordon Deegan

The father of tragic teen, Jack Dinan has described the six-day long search for his son as ‘torture’.

At the coroner's inquest into the death of the 19-year-old Ennis teen last November, Patrick Dinan also revealed that his wife, Lorna and himself were worried about Jack’s mental health in the weeks leading up to his disappearance and death and secured medical help for their son.

Jack Dinan

The teen posthumously became a father for the first time one day after his missing body was discovered in a wooded area outside Ennis on November 6 last.

At his funeral Mass last November, Jack’s sister, Jade told mourners that little Keelan Jack “was born on November 7 and we are so, so grateful for this gift Jack has left behind”.

At the funeral Mass, Jade also made a plea to those feeling alone or lost to seek help. She said: “The pain of suicide is something I would never wish on another family.”

At the inquest, consultant pathologist, Dr Terézia Laszlo said it is likely that Jack’s body lay in the wooded area for a number of days but was unable to say exactly how long.

Jack went missing on October 31 and took with him his father's rifle and some ammunition from the family home on Ennis' Considine Rd.

Jack’s body was found six days later. The cause of death was recorded at the inquest as brain damage secondary to a gunshot. Coroner Isobel O'Dea recorded a narrative verdict in accordance with the evidence.

The wooded area is located around one mile from his home on Considine Rd in Ennis and while he was missing, the family had to contend with false reports that he was sighted at Blanchardstown Shopping Centre in Dublin where the gardaí placed the shopping centre in lockdown.

In her comments to the family, County Coroner, Isobel O’Dea alluded to that. She said: “I remember vividly the speculation in the media as to where Jack might have been and the trauma that would have caused when he was so close to you during all of that time.”

In his deposition, Patrick Dinan said that in the couple of weeks prior to his disappearance, Jack had not left the house “and myself and my wife were worried about his mental health”.

Mr Dinan said that the family contacted the acute psychiatric unit in Ennis and a crisis nurse and a doctor came to see Jack.

Mr Dinan said that his son “was in the process of being diagnosed but didn’t have a diagnosis”.

Mr Dinan said that during those weeks “Jack had been up and down those days, he might be good in the morning and down in the afternoon".

Mr Dinan said that Jack had been taking medication that he had been prescribed for only three or four weeks at that stage.

Mr Dinan said that the medication seemed to help him and he was sleeping better and he was in better form.

On the day that Jack went missing, Mr Dinan said that Lorna phoned him to say that Jack wasn’t at home and Mr Dinan returned home to see that his gun and ammunition that he locked away were also taken.

Mr Dinan said that on the morning that Jack went missing he stuck his head into his sister’s room and said ‘sorry for disturbing you’.

He said: “She was the last person to see him and she went back asleep.”

Mr Dinan said that: “We spent six long days looking for Jack and it was torture. We searched and grasped for hope but I knew after a few days that Jack was dead. He never left home much and he wouldn’t have stayed away.”

The following Monday, Mr Dinan recalls a garda sergeant and garda calling to the door to say that Jack’s body had been found.

Local man, Martin Barry was out walking a friend’s dog that day and said that to avoid cattle in a field near Beechpark he entered a wooded area.

Mr Barry said that he saw a foot “and I didn’t want to see any more”.

Mr Barry said that he knows the Dinans and knew it was Jack as he was very aware of the ongoing search for the teen. Mr Barry immediately reported what he saw to the Gardaí.

Dr Laszlo said there was no alcohol found in Jack Dinan’s system but did find evidence of the prescribed psychotic drug he was taking.

She said: “It has sometimes different side effects and can cause hallucination.”

Insp Paul Slattery sympathised with the Dinan family and told Patrick Dinan: “It was pure torture that I saw in your face during the search.”

Insp Slattery said that members of the Gardaí and Civil Defence stayed on after their shift to continue looking for Jack during the search “because Jack was somebody’s son and somebody’s brother”.

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