‘Ranting and raving’ man died after arrest, inquest hears

A man who was arrested after being found “ranting and raving” in a neighbour’s back garden in the early hours of the morning died soon after falling ill, while handcuffed in a garda van.

Kevin Meehan, 39, a father of two who lived at 43 Dunard, Lotamore, in Mayfield, Cork, died in the city’s Mercy University Hospital on December 20, 2011 from cardiac arrest due to excited delirium syndrome following restraint.

At the resumption yesterday of the inquest into his death, Cork City Coroner’s Court was told Mr Meehan was found in a highly agitated state in the garden of Patricia McGill’s house at 13, Dunard, at around 1am.

The mother-of-three said: “He looked mad. He was staring. He didn’t move a muscle. He was shouting ‘they’re going to get me: they won’t get me’. He was ranting and raving. He wasn’t making any sense.”

Garda Jean Twomey and Garda John Harrington arrived within 10 minutes and found Mr Meehan standing inside a garden shed, bleeding heavily from a gash on his right arm after smashing the shed window with his fist. They told coroner, Dr Philip Comyn they tried to calm him down and coax him from the shed.

“He then bolted from the shed to the back door of the house,” Garda Twomey said.

She said she feared for her and her colleague’s safety, and for the safety of the occupants of the house. Mr Meehan fell at the patio door.

The gardaí knelt on his thighs and held his arms in an effort to restrain him but he resisted and continued shouting. It was only when three more gardaí arrived that they managed to handcuff him, and he calmed down. An ambulance was called and three gardaí carried him to a police van and placed him sitting in the back. Garda Harrington said he became concerned, about two minutes later, when he found Mr Meehan unresponsive inside the van. When the ambulance arrived, Mr Meehan was transferred to MUH, where he died a short time later.

The inquest was also told gardaí later entered Mr Meehan’s house and found a glass coffee table and the TV screen had been smashed.

Mr Meehan’s sister, June Hickey, said he had started drinking again about two years ago and would go on binges, and that he felt gardaí were following him.

Jennifer Crawley, Mr Meehan’s partner for about nine months before his death, described him as an alcoholic and said at the time, they were abusing butane gas.

“When he was on the gas, he’d talk to people who weren’t there,” she said.

She said he had been verbally and physically abusive at times, and gardaí had been called to his house about eight weeks before his death to deal with a violent incident. The inquest continues today.


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