Father searched for son day and night Coroner’s Court is told


An inquest has heard how the father of a Londonderry man, who was found dead on Church Road after succumbing to hypothermia, had searched night and day for his son.

The inquest yesterday, Tuesday, into the death of William Joseph O’Connor (48), was told how the deceased, from Slaughtmanus Road, had been found lying on his back with his trousers at his knees and his shoes missing.

Dr James Linus, who conducted a post-mortem, found Mr O’Connor’s injuries consistent with him crawling about in a confused state, while his state of undress was likely due to the effects of hypothermia giving a false perception of warmth. At the time of death there were no drugs or alcohol in his system.

In evidence Peter Chapman said he was shocked when he found Mr O’Connor’s body near a play park on November 10 2013.

PSNI Detective Constable Gibbons gave evidence that there was nothing to suggest anything other than hypothermia had caused Mr O’Connor’s injuries.

Dr Seosamh McCauley, a locum doctor at Altnagelvin Hospital said he had treated the deceased five days prior to his death and at the time Mr O’Connor had been feeling low.

The doctor said Mr O’Connor claimed to have tried to hang himself days earlier and having had a row with his parents, was sleeping rough. At that time he was referred to the community psychiatric team.

Community mental health nurse, Cormac Jackson, said on November 5, 2013 he offered to contact Mr O’Connor’s family, but Mr O’Connor said he would consider doing this himself.

Martin Carton, team manager at the Western Trust’s Psychosexual service said Mr O’Connor had missed a number of appointments due to alcohol relapses. At the last appointment he talked of getting his own home and car. He said O’Connor “managed his suicidal thoughts on a day to day basis” but they were intense with alcohol.

Family relations and difficulties at home appeared to be behind the alcohol misuse, however, a family member, speaking from the public gallery, said Mr O’Connor never had any problems at home.

“When he went missing and would go on the drink for a few weeks, Willie (his father) searched night and day for him. His family were fully supportive of him during his turbulent times. I want that put on record.”

Coroner John Lecky said Mr O’Connor’s perception was often not the reality and recorded a verdict of death by hypothermia.

“This is a sad picture of a man who had a lot of problems and it’s possible there was a solution to them but he did not have sufficient insight to address them, when this is lacking the solution is elusive,” he said.