Man in rubbish chute died of lack of oxygen

The homeless man whose body was found in the rubbish chute of an apartment block suffered no fatal injuries beforehand and died as a result of asphyxia and lack of oxygen, a pathologist has said.

Man in rubbish chute died of lack of oxygen

Assistant State pathologist Margot Bolster testified at the Central Criminal Court in Cork yesterday on the sixth day of the trial of David O’Loughlin, aged 28, of Garden City Apartments, North Main St, Cork, who denies murdering Liam Manley, 59, at Garden City Apartments, North Main St, Cork, on May 12, 2013.

Brendan Nix, defending, cross-examined gardaí on some of the questions, scenarios, and comments they put to the accused when he was interviewed a week after Mr Manley’s body was found. Mr Nix drew attention to a comment by one garda that Mr O’Loughlin would find himself categorised with the Mulhall sisters, who became known as the Scissor Sisters.

Detective Garda Padraig Harrington said that, after getting nowhere in three “softly softly” interviews, a strategic decision was made that he and his colleague, Detective Garda Daragh Murray, would take a hard line. He said this was why they began to describe the alleged murder as evil and Mr O’Loughlin as the devil.

Earlier, Dr Bolster described Mr Manley as a small, thin man shown to her as his remains lay among bags of rubbish at the bottom of the rubbish chute. He wore beige pants and a fleece jacket and had lost a shoe.

“There was a miraculous medal on a chord around the neck,” Dr Bolster said.

She said decomposition had advanced at a faster rate than would be normal because of heat in the confined chute and the presence of a large amount of bacteria from surrounding rubbish.

Seán Gillane, prosecuting, said: “Your findings are consistent with him entering the chute headfirst.”

Dr Bolster replied: “That is correct.” She later referred to the body being trapped between bags of rubbish.

She said she found quite a significant injury to the deceased’s back, where he had a number of fractured ribs.

She found injuries to both of his hands. “In my view they are most likely defensive, possibly sustained on entry to the chute,” she said.

Dr Bolster said there would have been pressure on Mr Manley’s chest as a result of being headfirst in the chute and a lack of oxygen in the confined space.

Delivering her conclusion, Dr Bolster gave the cause of death as asphyxia and lack of oxygen. She said that, in more formal terms, it was a complex combination of mechanical asphyxia, pressure asphyxia and hypoxia (lack of oxygen) due to being entrapped in the waste chute.

The pathologist said that while there was evidence of blows to the face, none of them resulted in any trauma to the brain.

Later in the afternoon, as gardaí were being cross-examined on the manner in which they interviewed the accused, the jury foreman interrupted to say one of the jurors was feeling unwell. There was a short break after which the jurors were all in a position to resume.

Mr Gillane said the prosecution case was closed unless the defence required the tendering of any uncalled prosecution witnesses for the purpose of examination by the defence.

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