THE family of a man who was killed during a row at a pub in County Limerick more than 30 years say they still don’t know why it took more than 35 years for his inquest to be heard.
A manslaughter verdict was returned by a jury this Wednesday following the inquest into the death of John O’Driscoll from Castleconnell who died on August 2, 1976.
In his evidence, Patrick Keane said he had been drinking and playing pool with Mr O’Driscoll and a number of other men at the Sweeney’s Pub, Daly’s Cross on the day he was killed.
He said a dispute arose towards the end of the game over whose turn it should have been and that Mr O’Driscoll was struck across the head by Michael Coffey with a pool cue after the pair had “exchanged words”.
Retired garda sergeant, Brendan Edwards, who was one of the first gardai to arrive at the scene of the incident described how when he arrived at the pub, he saw Mr O’Driscoll, who was aged 24, lying on the ground and that he “appeared to be dead”.
Insp Brendan McDonagh confirmed that a man had been prosecuted in relation to Mr O’Driscoll’s death and that he had pleaded guilty to his manslaughter.
The inspector told the inquest that Michael Coffey, who was 22 at the time and from Lisnagry, received a two year prison sentence, which was suspended for two years on condition that he stayed out of trouble.
The inquest heard details of the post mortem which was conducted by the then state pathologist, Dr John Harbison.
He found that John O’Driscoll had suffered significant bleeding on his brain and in his report he stated the deceased man had sustained neck injuries consistant with being struck by a pool cue.
The jury of four men and two women were told by the coroner that the only verdict open to them was one of manslaughter as the matter had been finalised before the criminal courts.
Dr Casey apologised to Mr O’Driscoll’s family for the delay in hearing the inquest.
Afterwards, Lourda Kearse – a niece of John O’Driscoll – said his family are still seeking answers
“It has been 35 years, both his parents have passed away and there is still no reason as to why it took so long to have this inquest,” she said .
John O’Driscoll’s family say are to seek legal advice and that they will bring their campaign to the Minister for Justice if necessary.
A full version of this story has been published in the Limerick Leader, print edition, dated June 2, 2012.