Family want independent inquiry into son’s death

THE family of an 18-year-old who died after being released from garda custody demanded an independent inquiry yesterday into the circumstances behind his death.

John Maloney Jr, from Crumlin in Dublin, was arrested in May 2003 but was found unconscious shortly after being released and died 11 days later in hospital.

His 48-year-old father, Johnny Maloney, said the family wanted an independent inquiry because they could not believe that their son had died from a combination of drugs or alcohol.

“If he was like that, he couldn’t have walked out of the police station,” he said.

He claimed the family have been subjected to a campaign of garda harassment for highlighting the mysterious aspects of their son’s death.

A parking ticket was placed on their car when they went to visit his grave on Christmas Day in 2003 and their home has been raided for illegal fireworks.

“It’s been very rough for the family over the last two years. You’re still fighting your case and there’s no time for grieving,” said Mr Maloney.

The questions the family want answered include:

* How could their son be released from custody in a healthy condition and then collapse 10 minutes later?

* Why was there no record of him signing out of the garda station and no CCTV footage of him leaving?

* Why did gardaí at Rathfarnam deny he had been in custody there when the family rang to ask the following day?

* Why was he walking in the opposite direction to where he lived and why had no-one seen him on the route?

* Was the garda investigation into his death properly carried out?

John Maloney Jr was in a car with a friend in Rathfarnam at around 8am on May 4, 2003, when they were arrested for a drugs search.

His friend was released at 9.35am without charge and was told John was being held over due to an outstanding warrant for driving without insurance.

At an inquest in Tallaght District Court last year, the sergeant on duty said John was released shortly afterwards and he walked out of the station “with a spring in his step.”

But he was seen stumbling and falling at a nearby estate at around 9.50am by a passer-by and an ambulance was called. He died in Tallaght Hospital on May 16when the life support machine was switched off.

The family tried to find out where their son was that weekend but claim they were told by gardaí at Rathfarnam that he had not been in custody there.

Mr Maloney’s wife, Sandra, finally learned what had happened when a radio bulletin mentioned a young man with a “Johnner” tattoo being taken unconscious to hospital.

State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy carried out the postmortem on the body and gave evidence at the inquest that a minute amount of cocaine had been found in his body. There was also a large quantity of alcohol.

Although she said the cause of death was possibly due to a reaction from cocaine, the jury returned an open verdict.

Mr Maloney said his son had probably hung around with people who smoked cannabis but had never been into drugs.

“He probably would have tried it (cocaine) for the first time but no way would it have killed him,” he said.

“He was a very jolly young fellow and he always had a lot of fun.”

The family’s relationship with the gardaí has been extremely poor since, with John Maloney breaking his arm in a confrontation at a garda station shortly after the death.

In another incident, he went to visit his son’s grave in Mount Jerome Cemetery in Harold’s Cross on Christmas Day, 2003 and says he found a garda had placed a parking ticket on their car.

Both he and one of his sons became involved in a verbal altercation with the gardaí.

He pleaded guilty to threatening behaviour and assault in court, and the charges were dropped against his son. He was bound over to keep the peace for a year.

Since then, they claim, their home on Cashel Road in Crumlin has been raided by gardaí searching for illegal fireworks.

“They’re harassing us all the time,” said Mr Maloney.

He is now co-operating with the family of Terence Wheelock, who died in September, three months after he was found unconscious in a cell in Store St garda station. Both families are collecting signatures for a petition calling for independent inquiries into the two deaths.

A garda spokesman did not return calls seeking comment about the case.

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