THE family of a young man who suffered fatal head injuries while trying to break up a drunken brawl has urged people to come forward with information that may help gardaí re-examine the case.
The family of Denis (Dinny) Nolan, 26, from 4 Richard Rice Place in Glanworth, north Cork, was speaking outside Cork City Coroner’s Court last night after an inquest established that the fight in October 2008 was most likely responsible for the tearing of two arteries in his neck, resulting in massive bleeding around his brain stem.
Consultant neuropathologist Dr Niamh Bermingham said the truck driver had an underlying abnormality called vasculopothy which put his vertebral arteries at risk of splitting and leaking blood.
But assistant state pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster, said that while vertebral artery dissection can occur at any time, in this case it was reasonable to ascribe trauma as the primary cause.
Gardaí submitted a file on the incident to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who directed that no prosecution take place.
Following consultation between the Nolan family and senior gardaí in Fermoy, the file was resubmitted to the DPP but he again directed that no prosecution take place.
“Today we have answers,” Denis’s older sister, Liz, said after the inquest.
“I believe, as was said inside, there were a lot of people around, and for whatever reasons, they didn’t come forward, maybe they were afraid because it’s a small village.
“I have this gut feeling that there are people who know more and if they came forward with new evidence I think that would give the gardaí a reason to open it up again.”
City coroner Dr Myra Cullinane heard conflicting evidence about what happened in Glanworth in the early hours of Sunday, October 26, 2008 — the bank holiday weekend.
The inquest established that Denis and friends had been drinking since early evening in O’Donnell’s pub and that at around midnight, he tried to break up a fight between brothers, Johnny and Tommy Irwin. His cousin, Sean Crowley, tried to drag him away.
Noel Hanrahan said Denis tried to calm things that night. But Mr Crowley said Denis turned on him and punched him, and that he punched Denis in the face. He also claimed Denis head-butted him, and that he punched Denis again before leaving.
Mr Hanrahan said Mr Crowley pinned him up against a wall, and placed Denis in a headlock.
When Mr Crowley returned a short time later, he said Denis came at him with his fist raised, and that he punched him in the face. He landed on the ground in a sitting position.
He then claimed that Johnny Irwin kicked Denis several times in his back and neck. Tommy Irwin said that did not happen.
Det Gda Shane Davern said there was no independent evidence of anyone else assaulting Denis.
Friends helped him back to Patrick Quinlan’s house where he was placed on a coach to sleep.
The jury returned a narrative verdict stating that Denis was injured on October 27, 2008, became unwell, was admitted to hospital, was diagnosed with a head injury, and died on November 9, 2008.
His parents Mary and Denis, sister Liz, and twins, Pearl and Paul, said they got comfort from the fact that his organs had been donated.
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