Mother of young drowning victim claims delay in holding inquest is 'torture'

Oliver Forde (six) died two days after he got into difficulty while swimming in a hotel pool in Co Offaly
Mother of young drowning victim claims delay in holding inquest is 'torture'

Seán McCárthaigh

The mother of a young boy who suffered fatal injuries in a hotel swimming pool last summer broke down at a sitting of a Coroner’s Court after hearing of further delays in holding an inquest into her son’s death.

Oliver Forde (six), of Innismore, Crumlin, Dublin died at Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) at Crumlin on May 31st, 2022 – two days after he had got into difficulty while playing in the swimming pool at Tullamore Court Hotel in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

His mother, Nina Mahon, burst into tears at a brief hearing of Dublin District Coroner’s Court on Wednesday after discovering that the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) was seeking a further six-month adjournment of the inquest into Oliver’s death.

Ms Mahon expressed dismay at hearing HSA inspector, Frank Kerins, inform the coroner, Aisling Gannon, that the HSA needed more time to allow it to continue with its investigation into the circumstances of the young boy’s death.

"This is torture," Ms Mahon cried, as she was comforted by family and friends who also attended the hearing.

Ms Gannon acknowledged it was another difficult day for Ms Mahon and her family. However, the coroner stressed that a further adjournment would be for the long-term benefit of the family and to allow due process to take place.

Ms Gannon explained it was important to allow other independent bodies like the HSA, which had their own powers of investigation, to complete their work.

"You don’t want to get information on the drip. It will be worthwhile in due course as you will get a fulsome picture," she observed.

Mr Kerins promised to notify the coroner and also to write to the family and keep them updated if the HSA’s investigation would be completed within the next six months.

It is expected that the HSA will forward a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions who will decide if any criminal prosecution should arise out of the case. A legal representative of Tullamore Court Hotel was also present in court.

Both the HSA and Oliver’s family also consented to a request by Naomi Boland of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, for a copy of the post-mortem on Oliver’s body for its National Review panel.

A previous sitting of the inquest last November heard the results of a post-mortem had shown that the young boy had died from injuries caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain.

Ms Gannon noted at the time that the brain injuries Oliver had sustained were consistent with "prolonged immersion in water".

Oliver, who was a pupil at Harold’s Cross National School in Dublin, was rushed by emergency services to the Midlands Regional Hospital in Tullamore after getting into difficulty in the hotel swimming pool before later being transferred by ambulance to the hospital in Crumlin.

The boy is survived by his parents, Denis and Nina, and his two brothers, Jack and Lucas.

The coroner granted the HSA’s application and the inquest was adjourned until November 1st.

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