Inquest into Death of Mental Patient

An inquest is to be held into the death of a psychiatric patient at Dublin’s Central Mental Hospital after a nurse was jailed for assaulting him, it was confirmed yesterday. Psychiatric nurse, Bernard Cullen, was last week given a four-year prison sentence for assaulting Gary Connell, a patient, who died later that day. During a brief hearing, Dublin City Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said: “I understand criminal proceedings were completed last week.” Setting a date of October 12 for the inquest, Dr Farrell said: “We will be requesting the full Garda file to be submitted.”

Last week, Mr Cullen (47) from Gormanstown, Co Meath pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Mr Connell on September 19, 2001, and was given a four-year prison sentence.The Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard the Director of Public Prosecutions was satisfied Mr Connell (35) did not die as a result of the injuries he received in the assault.

The patient was restrained after stabbing a care worker with a piece of broken mirror. A Garda sergeant told the court Mr Cullen had admitted to tapping Mr Connell with his foot in the shoulder and punching him in the face while he was restrained. State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy said Mr Connell died from asphyxiation and compromised breathing due to vomit. She said there was no evidence of brain damage and the injuries caused by Mr Cullen would have healed.