An inquest into the death of a Derry man, whose body was recovered from a river in Inishowen after he was reported missing, has found that there was no evidence to suggest he died due to suicide or unlawful killing.
Stephen McCloskey, of Ard Grange in Derry, was reported missing to the PSNI on October 28, 2014.
The 32-year-old’s body was then found at a river in Carrowreagh, Bridgend on November 9.
An inquest was held into his death at Buncrana Courthouse last week, which was conducted by Donegal Coroner Dr Denis McCauley.
The inquest heard from McCloskey’s mother, Rosaleen McCloskey.
Ms McCloskey told the court she had spoken briefly to Stephen on the night of October 27, 2014 the last occasion on which she had seen him alive.
She described her son’s appearance that evening as ‘washed and dressed’.
Ms McCloskey also said that she did not see her son as the type of person who would ‘commit suicide’, but he seemed ‘lost and frightened’.
Ms McCloskey said she had been unhappy with the company Stephen had been keeping before his death and her son had told her he felt he was he was being followed by someone in a white van.
She told the inquest that she loved her son ‘unconditionally’ and had stuck by him.
The Inquest then heard the deposition of Daniel (Denim) Coyle who claimed he and another man, Tommy Kelly had been with Mr McCloskey in the early hours of the morning of the day before he went missing.
Mr Coyle said they had taken Diazepam and smoked grass.
He claimed Mr McCloskey was in a ‘paranoid frenzy’ when he left Mr Coyle’s parent’s house in in Redcastle on the morning of October 28, 2014.
The inquest then heard from Sinead Lynch, Mr McCloskey’s partner. The couple had three children together.
Ms Lynch said that Mr McCloskey had been taking prescription medication to help him get off drugs and he was also on prescription medication for depression.
She added that Mr McCloskey had fallen in with a ‘bad crowd’ in the two months before his death and she had asked him to leave the family home on October 27, 2014.
The inquest heard she later sent Mr McCloskey a text asking if she should be concerned about anyone calling to the house and he replied, “No.’
Ms Lynch also mentioned that Mr McCloskey told her that he felt he was being followed by someone in a white van in the two to three weeks before his death.
Mr Ciaran MacLochlainn of CS Kelly and Company Solicitors in Buncrana, who was representing the McCloskey family, asked Ms Lynch if Mr McCloskey had ever been shot as this had been suggested in the pathologist’s report into his death.
Ms Lynch was adamant in her reply that Mr McCloskey had never been shot, a point which was later accepted by the Coroner and the Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis, who carried out Mr McCloskey’s post-mortem.
Dr Michael Curtis carried out Mr McCloskey’s post-mortem on November 10, 2018 in Letterkenny University Hospital.
Dr Curtis said that Mr McCloskey had three lacerations on his scalp and that these injuries were consistent with the deceased having come into contact with the gravel on the riverbed and having passed through foliage.
He also said Mr McCloskey’s injuries had occurred after death.
There was no trace of alcohol found in Mr McCloskey’s blood or urine. Dr Curtis said he did find Diazepam, Nordazepam and Temazepam, a ‘trace’ of an antidepressant and metabolised cocaine in Mr McCloskey’s system.
He said that Mr McCloskey exhibited the ‘cardinal signs of drowning’ as he had found water in his lungs.
The pathologist also told the Inquest that Mr McCloskey had inflamed gastritis, which could be linked to a condition know as Paradoxical Hypothermia, were a person feels very hot and removes their clothes, in spite of the fact they are actually very, very cold.
He added that a person could experience Paradoxical Hypothermia if he or she was out of doors or was wet, even in an ambient temperature of 23 degrees.
Summing up, Coroner McCauley said the Inquest had heard no evidence, which was beyond reasonable doubt, that Mr McCauley’s death was due to either suicide or unlawful killing.
Dr McCauley said Dr Curtis believed that Paradoxical Hypothermia was the ‘highly probable’ cause of his death.
The Coroner added that what ‘exactly what happened’ to the deceased was unknown.
He then recorded an Open Verdict.
The Coroner extended his condolences to the McCloskey family, a number of whom were present in court.
He also thanked all of the witnesses who had given evidence.
Rosaleen McCloskey thanked the coroner for his verdict.
The Coroner then told the McCloskey family he hoped the inquest could bring them ‘closure’ as it was the ‘final act in the tragic death of a young man with a young family’.
Garda Inspector David Murphy also sympathised with the McCloskey family and said Mr McCauley was a ‘treasured and loved son, partner, brother and father’.
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