HEALTH AUTHORITIES have confirmed that a special review team will examine the case of how social services handled the case of a 14 year old Edenderry boy, who died after taking methadone and alcohol during a night out.
This week, the Health Service Executive confirmed the case of James Berry of Greenwood, Edenderry, will be referred to a 15 person national review panel, which is led by independent child protection expert Dr Helen Buckley after the details of his tragic death were heard at Monday’s sitting of Offaly’s Coroner’s Court.
The teenager died as a result of pneumonia due to a coma and brain injury caused by methadone and alcohol intoxication.
Offaly’s acting coroner, Brian Mahon, described it as one of the “most shocking, sad and miserable cases” that it had been his duty to pronounce on. The Coroner noted that the incident was “surprising and shocking to me as a coroner” and while it was customary to offer condolences to families at inquests, Mr Mahon said that people might note that he was not going to do that.
Meanwhile, the inquest heard that the deceased had visited his father, David Berry’s home, on the evening of February 20, 2010. After later leaving his father’s house, the teenager ended up in an apartment in Clonmullen belonging to a Mr Peter Galvin (29).
Later, after James had gone back home, Mr Galvin was told the teenager had been in his room. Mr Galvin then checked the room where he kept a bottle of methadone and although nothing seemed out of place, he was concerned and asked James’s brother to keep an eye on him. He also phoned James, who denied taking anything on the night.
Deputy State Pathologist, Dr Michael Curtis was asked during the inquest whether James might have had a better chance had he been treated when he arrived home at 3am to which he responded that the 14 year old’s chances of survival would have been “greatly enhanced” had he received treatment at that time. The inquest was told that the young man had previously been in voluntary care at St Joseph’s in Clonmel but had stopped attending there.
Mr Mahon said that while the 14 year old had been the subject of some intervention by the authorities, there was a great pity the teenager wasn’t still in St. Joseph’s in 2010.
Mr Mahon added that the deceased was in a “totally dysfunction and chaotic way of living” noting that there was “nil level of supervision” and a “lack of interest and lack of concern on the part of his family and on the part of his so called friends”.