Security worker Michael Dwyer went to Bolivia with two colleagues to better his career prospects, his inquest heard today.
Two months into his trip he made the fatal decision to remain in the south American country when his friends returned home.
He was later shot through the heart by security forces over an alleged plot to assassinate the country’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales.
His heartbroken mother, Caroline, said her son, a construction management graduate, flew out to Bolivia in November 2008 for a course in personal security and protection.
“He believed it would help him further down the line,” Mrs Dwyer told Dublin County Coroner’s Court.
Her son rang at Christmas, she said, and again in January to wish his younger brother Emmet and his grandmother a happy birthday.
He was working in security and decided to extend his visa.
Mr Dwyer’s last email home was on Mother’s Day.
Then on April 17 a man called the family home in village of Ballinderry, Co Tipperary and asked Mr Dwyer’s father, Martin, if he had a son working in south America and hung up.
Mr Dwyer called his wife who quickly did a search on the internet and discovered an Irishman had been shot dead by police.
Bloodied pictures of their dead son appeared in newspapers the next day.
His siblings Aisling, 23, Ciara, 22, and 14-year-old Emmet were devastated.
Mr Dwyer and two foreign nationals he had worked with at security firm IRMS travelled out when their contacts ran out. The firm said they had no knowledge of the course or their planned trip.
His colleagues returned home when the course never transpired.
Bolivian Ambassador to the UK, Beatriz Souviron, today revealed their airline tickets had been paid for by Bolivian businessman Alejandro Melgar, whom she said has been arrested for being part of a terrorist movement to separate Santa Cruz from the country.
The Dwyer family said they still wanted to know exactly what happened on that fatal night in Bolivia.
“Only a well-resourced investigation, meeting internationally-recognised standards, into the circumstances of Michael’s violent death can help us find the truth and we urge the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, to mobilise such an investigation,” they said.
In a statement read by solicitor Paul Malone, they described Michael as a loving and much-loved grandson, son and brother.
“Every day for the past six months, we have grieved his loss and – every time we think of that fatal day in April – we are numbed,” they said.
“That ’single bullet through his heart’ has gone straight through our hearts too.
“We cannot come to terms with losing Michael and have found it very difficult to return to the routine of our lives: we miss him so much, the wonderful personality that was Michael Dwyer.”