'We want the truth': Family seek fresh inquest into 2008 drowning

'We want the truth': Family seek fresh inquest into 2008 drowning

The family of a 24-year-man, who drowned in the Dublin docklands in 2008, is seeking a new inquest into the circumstances of his death.

The family of John Kelly, who drowned at Britain Quay in the early hours of 16 October, 2008, is making an application to the High Court on Monday for a judicial review of the Attorney General’s decision to refuse a fresh inquest.

A Section 42 inquiry into the 2008 death was carried out by former High Court Judge Daniel Herbert, who in his 2018 report found the Garda response to emergency calls about a man in distress in the Docklands area on the night in question to be “confused, inappropriate, and inadequate”.

Despite several emergency calls to gardaí from residents in a nearby apartment complex about a man in distress, a patrol car did not attend until 15 minutes after the first call at 12.28am.

Mr Kelly is believed to have been in the water from 12.15am onwards and could be heard making repeated calls for help.

It was 12.55am when gardaí located him but efforts to save him were not successful and he went underwater at 12.58am, a minute after emergency fire and river rescue services arrived on the scene.

Justice Herbert recommended “an urgent investigation” into the capacity of gardaí to respond “correctly and effectively” to emergency phone calls from the public.

On foot of the Section 42 inquiry and its findings, the Kelly family asked the Attorney General in 2019 to establish a new inquest but this request was refused in October last year.

The family, represented by Owen Winters of Irish human rights lawyers KRW LAW in Belfast, is now hoping to challenge that decision by seeking a judicial review in the High Court on Monday.

Emma Kelly, a sister of the deceased, told the Irish Examiner that her family still did not know what happened on the night her brother died. 

We’re still in limbo as to what happened to John on the night.

"We’re hoping that a judicial review will secure a new inquest and establish what happened to John and why,” she added.

The Section 42 inquiry, she said, highlighted failings in the Garda response but these were not addressed in the original 2009 inquest.

“It’s very painful, even talking about it you’re reliving it all of the time. You just can’t let it go. We’ve found so many wrongdoings and failings,” Ms Kelly said.

We want justice for John. We want the truth to be out there.

The family is also arguing that the State failed to discharge its obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to investigate suspicious deaths.

The Kelly case was one of 320 cases considered by the Department of Justice for a Section 42 inquiry into allegations of Garda failings or misconduct. 

Only five cases were granted these special inquiries under the Garda Síochána Act.

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