Cork City coroner Philip Comyn returned a verdict of death by misadventure yesterday following an inquest into the death of Kevin McCarthy, 49, from Nun’s Walk, Ballyphehane.
Mr McCarthy, who worked for more than two decades in the landmark Keane’s Jewellers outlet on Cork’s Oliver Plunkett St, was found bleeding and unconscious on Travers St, a short but steep street between Sullivan’s Quay and Douglas St, at around 2am on November 26, 2017, a few minutes after leaving his staff Christmas party.
He was taken by ambulance to Cork University Hospital (CUH) where he died from his injuries on December 18, 2017.
Mr McCarthy, who beat bowel cancer in 2013, had married his long-term partner, Philip, only a few months earlier.
The discovery of an injured man on the street triggered an extensive Garda investigation. The scene was sealed off by 3.30am for a forensic examination, house-to-house enquiries were conducted, and CCTV was canvassed.
The inquest was told that Mr McCarthy had enjoyed dinner with colleagues in the Cornstore on the night, before they moved later to the Oyster Tavern for drinks.
Detective Sergeant Jason Lynch told Mr Comyn that gardaí were able to establish from CCTV that Mr McCarthy had left the Oyster Tavern alone at 1.48am on November 26, was tracked along the Grand Parade, had crossed the street by the city library, and was captured again on CCTV passing Deep South, heading towards Nano Nagle Bridge at 2.07am. That was the last sighting of him alive.
In a deposition read into the record, witness Gerard O’Sullivan said he was walking along Travers St with friends when they found Mr McCarthy some time between 2am and 2.30am lying on his back, with blood coming from his ears.
They said his breathing sounded like snoring and they were concerned for him, given the very cold weather and the wet surface. They phoned for an ambulance and helped paramedics when they arrived. However, Mr McCarthy never recovered from his injuries and was pronounced dead in CUH on December 18, 2017.
Assistant State pathologist Margot Bolster said there was no evidence of offensive or defensive wounds and the autopsy confirmed the presence of alcohol in the blood. She said the nature of the head injuries was typical of a fall onto the back of the head, and the cause of death was brain swelling and bleeding due to a fall.
Mr Comyn said it was most likely that after a few drinks at the Christmas party, Mr McCarthy lost his balance on his way home, slipped, and suffered the head injury.
He extended his sympathies to Mr McCarthy’s husband, Philip, and his extended family, who thanked gardaí and Det Sgt Lynch for “making it easy for the family during that difficult period”.