Cork coroner's concern after elderly man lay dead in his flat for six months; Third such case in past week

It is the third such case in an Irish coroner's court in seven days.

Cork coroner's concern after elderly man lay dead in his flat for six months; Third such case in past week

The Cork City coroner has expressed deep concern after hearing how a man lay dead in his suburban flat for several months before being found - the second such case he has heard in a week.

It is the third such case in an Irish coroner's court in seven days.

Coroner Philip Comyn said George Harrington, 79, of 1A Imaal Court, The Glen, seemed to have become "enveloped in a cloak of anonymity, which I find disconcerting".

He said:

Nobody seemed to miss him and I think that's the greatest tragedy of this inquest.

Mr Harrington's badly decomposed body was found in his flat and death was pronounced, on May 14, 2019. Evidence indicated he died the previous November.

The inquest was told that Mr Harrington lived independently and would contact family when he wanted.

Mr Comyn told that Mr Harrington was very involved in the community until his diagnosis with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease just over two years ago when he began to scale back on his involvement. But his family said he wasn't isolated.

His son, Les Harrington, said his father lived above the Glen Resource Centre, did some caretaking for the centre, and had daily contact with people, collecting his pension weekly and medications monthly.

Mary Cullinane said she last saw her father when she collected him from the Mercy University Hospital on November 14, 2018, and took him back to his flat. They discussed staying in more regular contact and spoke by phone the following day.

By May 14, 2019, Les said he was concerned for his father's welfare and called to his flat at around 5pm and noticed his car hadn't been moved for some time, and its NCT and tax discs had expired.

He alerted gardaí who forced entry to discover Mr Harrington dead in his kitchen.

Investigating Garda Michael Nagle said the flat was clean and tidy, there was no sign of forced entry and no sign of trauma on the body.

Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margot Bolster, said a cause of death could not be ascertained given the advanced state of decomposition but that death was most likely due to a cardiac event.

Garda Nagle said the last newspaper in the flat was dated October 18, 2018, milk in the fridge had an expiry date of November 11, and the last opened post was dated November 14.

He established that Mr Harrington collected his pension on November 16 and there was no evidence of his medication, last collected on November 14, being taken beyond November 19.

Mr Harrington marked days off on a calendar found in his flat and the last 'X' was over November 18.

While a witness gave a written statement to gardaí that she saw Mr Harrington on the St Patrick's weekend 2019, Garda Nagle said that was unlikely given the evidence in the flat.

Mr Comyn returned an open verdict and said for the second time in week, he was troubled that someone could lay dead and undiscovered for so long.

He said while Mr Harrington had cut himself off to a certain extent, his family was available to him when he wanted.

He said Mr Harrington lived over a busy resource centre, attended regularly by people, including many the same age as him, that he attended a GP, a pharmacy, the post office and local shopping centre regularly and that "no alarm bells went off".

He extended his sympathies to the family and praised Garda Nagle for his professionalism.

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