A jury has returned open verdicts into the deaths of a homeless man and woman whose bodies were recovered metres from each other in the River Lee in Cork City Centre in December 2014.
Paddy O’Driscoll aged 53, of Skibbereen, West Cork, and Michelle O’Riordan, aged 27, of Mayfield, Cork, drowned on December 4, 2014, although their bodies were not recovered for 10 days. Cork Coroners Court heard the pair were captured on CCTV entering the Port of Cork premises on Custom House Quay shortly before 6pm on that date.
Sgt David Callaghan said it was his belief the pair died soon after entering the unprotected quay area, as Mr O’Driscoll’s watch was stopped at 6.10pm.
Ms O’Riordan’s father, Declan, told Cork City Coroner Myra Cullinane he met his daughter on November 28, 2014. He tried to persuade her to come to stay with him but she wanted to reside with her boyfriend, Jessie, at his flat . Mr O’Riordan tried contacting her in early December to no avail.
Cork Simon staff member Marie O’Sullivan told how she saw Ms O’Riordan outside the shelter in the early afternoon of December 4. Ms O’Riordan was drunk so Ms O’Sullivan told her to return when she had sobered up. Fellow staff member Denise Cremin said she refused Ms O’Riordan entry to the shelter at 5.15pm on the same date as she was still drunk.
Mallow Search and Rescue spotted a body near the confluence of the north and south channels and naval divers recovered both bodies on the night of December 14.
Margaret Bolster, the assistant state pathologist, concluded the pair drowned on or around December 4, 2014. She said they both had high alcohol levels in their blood which would have impacted on their co-ordination and footing near the quay area which was not protected by a wall. The jury returned open verdicts in the deaths.
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