Woman called taxi hours before death, inquest hears

A DESPERATE woman called a taxi driver and told him to “get me out of here” hours before her battered body was discovered in a pool of blood in her home.

Catherine Smart, aged 57, of Bailick Court in Midleton, Co Cork, died of multiple head injuries inflicted with a hurley on the morning of Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010.

At 7.31am, taxi driver Tony Bailey received a call from Ms Smart as he drove passengers home.

“She said, ‘Can you get me out of here,’ and then something about being on the floor, then the call was disconnected,” Mr Bailey said.

In a follow-up call, Ms Smart told Mr Bailey she was “very nervous, get me out of here” before making a third and final call during which she did not communicate but was described as “hysterical”.

Two hours later, gardaí discovered Ms Smart’s body face down in a pool of blood among shards of broken glass. Blood stains marked the walls around her and a nearby upturned fridge.

At an inquest into her death yesterday at Midleton District Court, Coroner Frank O’Connell heard how the woman had called gardaí at 4.20am, complaining that her partner, Derrick Daly, aged 47, from Douglas Street in Cork, had locked her out of her house.

She had told gardaí he had been living with her for the past 18 months and she had “given him her last penny”.

“She said, ‘I had to borrow money because I gave him my last penny’,” Garda Michelle O’Connell said in a statement.

When gardaí accessed the house, Daly was inside. A hurley was placed inside the backdoor, which Ms Smart told gardaí “was Derrick’s”.

As gardaí left at 5.10am, she thanked them and said she was fine.

At 9.24am Daly made a 999 call.

“He said, ‘I tried to get into the front room but there is a pair of legs blocking the door, I think the person is dead’,” Detective Inspector Brian Goulding told the inquest.

Garda Kieran Glynn was first on the scene.

“I observed Catherine Smart lying face down on the ground with her feet up against the door,” he said. She had no pulse and was pronounced dead at 9.55am.

In her postmortem, state pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy found Ms Smart had been subjected to a violent assault. She had suffered multiple blunt force trauma injuries, including 10 lacerations to her head and scalp. Five of the blows were administered with a blunt object and five were the result of a long thin object, the inquest heard.

The woman’s hands and wrists bore wounds consistent with self defence.

During forensic examinations of the house, gardaí found a broken hurley stained with her blood.

Daly was found not guilty of her murder but guilty of manslaughter by a jury at the Central Criminal Court last June. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Det Insp Goulding told the inquest that Daly has never admitted inflicting the blows that killed his partner.

The jury returned a narrative verdict, that Ms Smart died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head caused by a known person using a hurley to inflict blows.

Coroner Frank O’Connell and gardaí extended sympathies to Ms Smart’s younger sister Ann Vaughan, who was present in the court yesterday.

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