Tallaght teen died of single stab wound to chest, inquest hears

A teenager stabbed to death in Tallaght was on the phone when he was fatally wounded.

An inquest into the death of Reece Cullen at 19 Kilclare Crescent, Tallaght, Dublin 24 heard a number of youths arrived at the address at 2.45pm on January 5 2017.

Neighbour John Sutcliffe noticed the group as he worked on a car in his driveway.

“There were three or four males, all aged between 16 and 19,” Mr Sutcliffe said. Reece had been staying at Kilclare Crescent with friends since the tragic death of his mother the previous September.

“I heard only general chit chat, there was no shouting or anything to make me look over,” Mr Sutcliffe said.

Minutes later a youth came into his driveway asking for help.

“He said, ‘my mate has been stabbed, can you ring an ambulance?’ His hands were covered in blood,” Mr Sutcliffe said.

He phoned emergency services and ran to the house where Reece lay injured in the hallway.

“He was lying on the ground a couple of feet inside the front door,” Mr Sutcliffe told the court.

Dublin Fire Brigade responded to a call received at 3.05pm. Paramedic Noel Keegan found Reece unresponsive.

“He was not breathing and he appeared to have a stab wound to the chest,” Mr Keegan said.

The injured youth was transferred to Tallaght Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan conducted an autopsy and found a single stab wound had penetrated his heart. A toxicology report found he had no alcohol or drugs in his system.

Gardai launched a substantial investigation, Detective Inspector John Walshe told Dublin Coroner’s Court.

“A couple of youths were at the address, one youth had arrived while Reece Cullen was on the phone and he was fatally stabbed,” DI Walshe said.

Some 110 lines of inquiry were opened, 88 statements were taken and three arrests were made.

A file was submitted to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) but no charges were brought.

The file remains open.

Det Insp Walshe said there was a single perpetrator responsible for Mr Cullen’s death.

Addressing the jury of four women and four men, Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said there was only one verdict open to them in this situation.

“The evidence though tragic and stark, is very clear in relation to the findings you have to make,” Dr Cullinane said. The jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing by person unknown.

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