A JURY at the inquest of a man who died after being in Garda custody has recommended that a methadone protocol be introduced in all Garda stations as soon as possible.
After 19 days of evidence, the seven-member jury at the Dublin City Coroner’s Court returned a narrative verdict, simply describing the circumstances of the death of Dwayne Foster (24), Woodbank Avenue, Finglas, Dublin.
They found Foster had died of methadone intoxication after lying to a doctor about his drugs history.
Foster was found unresponsive in Coolock Garda station in the small hours of March 7th, 2006, and was pronounced dead less than an hour later at Beaumont Hospital.
He had been arrested in connection with the shooting of mother- of-one Donna Cleary (22), who was fatally wounded at a party at Adare Green, Coolock, on March 5th.
Foster was administered methadone on two occasions on March 6th by Dr Peadar Kirke. The doctor prescribed the medication after Foster told him he was a drug addict and was on a methadone treatment programme at Ballymun Clinic and was getting 60mls a day.
However, he was not on the programme and the methadone he took killed him.
The jury made three recommendations in addition to the verdict.
They recommended a methadone protocol be implemented in all Garda stations as soon as possible. They said there should be written medical information on prisoners for those who needed it, including visiting doctors. And they recommended that there should be access out-of-hours to the central treatment list, a list of people being maintained on State methadone programmes.
City Coroner Dr Brian Farrell thanked the jury and said he would pass their recommendations to the methadone prescribing protocol implementation committee.
Earlier yesterday, addressing the jury, Dr Farrell said it was clear Foster had been “forcefully arrested”, and some of the injuries found on his body were inflicted during that restraint and arrest. However, he added, Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis had said they made no contribution to his death. He had given the cause of death as “methadone toxicity”.
Dr Farrell advised the jury they could bring in either a verdict of death by misadventure or a narrative verdict, describing the details of how the death had come about. He ruled out a verdict of accidental death, saying it was inappropriate in the circumstances. He also warned the jury any recommendations they made must not “expressly or impliedly blame or exonerate”.
Following the inquest, the brothers, sisters and mother of Foster issued a statement through their solicitor Michael Finucane. They said they had never considered the Garda investigation adequate and at no stage had there been a serious and sustained examination of the circumstances surrounding the death until now.
The coroner’s examination had demonstrated beyond doubt that serious questions arose from the death.
“The family of Dwayne Foster intend to reflect carefully on the findings of the inquest into his death and consider what options are now open to them. It is hoped that all concerned, especially An Garda Síochána, will do the same,” the statement said.
Ciarán Lawlor, solicitor for Foster’s partner Selena Cannon, said he had already begun civil legal action against the State, An Garda Síochána and Beaumont Hospital. The action was being taken on behalf of Ms Cannon’s and Foster’s three children and included claims of negligence and breach of duty.
By FIONA GARTLAND
The Irish Times - Saturday, September 18, 2010
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Coroner's court jury urges introduction of methadone protocol for all Garda stations