Referee suffers fatal brain injury

A POPULAR referee suffered a fatal brain injury after a freak electric shock in his heart caused him to collapse.

Cork Coroner’s Court heard that Gerry Kiely, 53, from Limerick probably suffered the injury after the heart arrhythmia — an irregular heartbeat — caused the collapse.

Assistant state pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster said Mr Kiely was otherwise fit and healthy and there was no evidence of heart disease.

She said arrhythmia in these circumstances could be a form of sudden adult death syndrome and she urged Mr Kiely’s family to be screened.

The inquest heard the father-of-two, who lived at 7 Mitchell Street in Limerick city, was found slumped on the footpath outside his home by the local postman, Dave Nally, at about midday on November 20 last.

Mr Kiely was conscious but could not speak and he was rushed by ambulance to St John’s Hospital.

His wife Ann told the inquest although he complained of pain between his shoulder blades, his condition improved during the day. She said he had been in good health and in great form before his collapse.

“He never complained of any health problems. About 18 months beforehand, he went to his GP because he had high cholesterol but we changed diets and he walked a lot,” she said.

Doctors at St John’s discovered Mr Kiely had an irregular heartbeat and he was transferred to Limerick Regional Hospital. His heart stopped during the transfer.

He was fitted with a temporary pacemaker before a head scan revealed a brain injury and brain swelling.

On December 5, Mr Kiely was transferred to the neurological unit at Cork University Hospital where a permanent pacemaker was fitted and surgery was performed to ease the pressure inside Mr Kiely’s skull, but brain swelling continued and he died on December 12.

Dr Bolster said the only explanation for the brain injury was that it occurred when Mr Kiely collapsed.

She said the cause of the death was brain swelling and intra-cerebral haemorrhage, complicated by heart arrhythmia.

Cork’s city coroner, Dr Myra Cullinane recorded a narrative verdict.

Ms Kiely’s solicitor, Keith Oldham, read out a statement on her behalf thanking all who had helped her husband: “Their kindness and professionalism will never be forgotten. Gerry was a good husband and father who is loved and who is missed.”

More in this section

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence

Home Delivery


Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.