The inquest into the death of Liam Hyland found that he died from a heart attack rather than from injuries.
Mr Hyland (73) was found dead at his home at Old Golf Course Road, Tullycullion, Donegal Town on September 9. An inquest into the death of the Donegal Times editor and former owner of the Central Hotel took place at Donegal Town Courthouse last Wednesday.
The inquest heard that Mr Hyland had been working in the Donegal Times office on Friday, September 8. Employee Kim Pereira said he left to go home at 12.30 pm. She said he appeared to have a very sore knee and had to hold on tightly to his desk to stand up.
Ms Pereira said he rang the office at 2.30pm and sounded fine.
She herself left the office shortly after 6.00pm and along with her partner, went to Mr Hyland’s home to drop off notebooks and pages. These were put through the letterbox.
The following morning, Ms Pereira tried on several occasions to contact her employer by telephone when he did not arrive at the office.
Her colleague Margaret Gallagher arrived shortly after 1.00pm and went to Mr Hyland’s home. Ms Gallagher had a key to the house.
It was she who found Mr Hyland lying at the bottom of the stairs. The notebooks and papers were lying on the floor.
Garda Alan Gallagher gave evidence of attending the scene. He said Mr Hyland was fully clothed, wearing socks but not shoes. He said there was nothing suspicious and no sign of foul play.
The bed had not been slept in and there were unwashed dinner dishes.
Consultant histopathologist Dr Katriona Dillon who carried out a post mortem examination said there were a number of injuries consistent with a fall. These included a dislocated ankle, a head injury, a tear in the liver and broken ribs. However, she felt that the injuries had not been severe enough to have caused Mr Hyland’s death.
Dr Dillon outlined findings that indicated serious heart problems. The pathologist believed that Mr Hyland was on the stairs when he suffered what she described as a ‘cardiac event.’
Coroner Dr Denis McCauley said the deceased would most likely have become unconscious and then fallen, rather than the other way around.
He recorded a finding of death by natural causes, namely acute myocardial insufficiency and severe coronary atherosclerosis.
Dr McCauley said that unlike in television police dramas, it was very difficult to establish an exact time of death. Mr Hyland called the office at 2.30 pm on Friday and the notebooks and pages which were put through the letterbox at around 6.30pm appeared to be untouched. It was therefore highly probable that Mr Hyland had died between these two times.
The coroner explained that the date of death would however, have to be recorded as September 9 since this was the date on which Mr Hyland was found.
Dr McCauley expressed his condolences to the Hyland family. So too did Sergeant Stephen Lynch.
Solicitor Mairín McCartney who was representing the family said of Mr Hyland: “He will be sadly missed. He was a man involved in the Central Hotel and the Donegal Times; a very keen sportsman involved in cycling for a long time until an accident led to his giving up.”
On behalf of the family she acknowledged Garda Gallagher for his support. She also thanked Dr McCauley for his thoroughness at the inquest.
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