Man’s death in caravan was caused by head injuries

A POST mortem has confirmed that a Co Cork father-of-seven, who died in a caravan on Monday, died from head injuries, gardaí said last night.

Gardaí, however, have not formally launched a murder inquiry and said “investigations are continuing.”

The 51-year-old man was named as Philip O’Driscoll. He died shortly after emergency ambulance technicians were called to a caravan at Marsh Road, in Skibbereen, on St Stephen’s Night.

The caravan was located on the site of a house occupied for over 25 years by settled members of the Travelling community.

Acquaintances of the deceased were interviewed yesterday by gardaí who also revealed that Mr O’Driscoll, several hours before his death, may have been involved in two altercations on Monday, including an incident in the nearby village of Drimoleague.

Gardaí said last night that the locally-based investigation team was not currently prepared to upgrade the inquiry to a murder.

In the hours before his death, Mr O’Driscoll had been drinking with two men, including a cousin, and a woman in Drimoleague where an annual horse road trotting festival was held. Detectives have reportedly discovered that Mr O’Driscoll and his companions were refused entry to a licensed premises earlier that day and an altercation ensued.

They later left the village in a red car and gardaí suspect the vehicle stopped at Gurranes, a mile and a half from Drimoleague on the main Skibbereen Road.

A row, it has emerged, broke out within the group.

Gardaí yesterday conducted searches along the route from Gurranes to the caravan at Marsh Road, about one mile from Skibbereen.

After the second incident, Mr O’Driscoll was believed to have been driven back around 7.35pm to the caravan which was occupied by a first cousin.

Ten minutes later, the ambulance service was called to the scene. Mr O’Driscoll was reportedly conscious but the emergency technicians alerted gardaí.

Mr O’Driscoll was pronounced dead at the scene. He is survived by his wife and seven children, aged between two and 17.

Gardaí sealed off the area for forensic examinations and also cordoned off the site at Gurranes, where the row was said to have taken place.

They also carried out a technical examination on the red car which was parked at the caravan.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster visited the scene yesterday morning where she carried out a preliminary post mortem. She also visited Gurranes.

Mr O’Driscoll’s body was then removed to Cork University Hospital where a full post mortem was carried out.

Supt Pat Maher said yesterday that gardaí were anxious to speak to anybody who saw Mr O’Driscoll between 6pm and 7.45pm on Monday.

“We also want to talk to anybody who may have seen a number of people on the road at Gurranes. This could have been any time between 7pm and 7.35pm,” he said.

An incident room has been set up at Clonakilty Garda Station and anybody with information is asked to contact 023 21570.

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