Dad-of-two who got lost after taking shortcut on way home killed by toxic slurry pit fumes
A young father fell into a slurry pit and was killed by toxic gases when he took a shortcut home across a farmyard last Christmas.
An inquest returned a verdict of accidental death on Diarmuid Twomey (31), who disappeared last December 20 while walking home from a family Christmas gathering in Cork city.
His body was discovered five weeks later in a slurry pit in Whitechurch.
A post-mortem examination revealed that the father-of-two died from inhalation of hydro- gen sulphide gases after entering the slurry pit. He did not drown.
There was no sign of trauma to his body, which had to be identified from dental records.
His partner, Ciara Byrne, had made numerous appeals for information about his where-abouts last Christmas, but said she knew he was not alive when his mother died on January 6 and still nothing was heard of him.
He was a devoted carer to his elderly parents.
The young mum said she started to fear the worst when there was no sign of him by Christmas Eve.
"He adored his family and his little girls. It wasn't in him not to be there for Christmas," she said.
She had to tell her daughters that "Daddy got lost in the dark and went up to heaven".
The case was described as "difficult and tragic" by Cork coroner Frank O'Connell.
"This is a great mystery, but I think his entry into the slurry pit was an accident.
"I don't think he knew what was there, particularly in the darkness of the night," he added.
"I believe his death occurred some time between 5.30am and 7am."
Mr Twomey disappeared after leaving a family Christmas party on December 20 to walk 10km to his home in rural Carrignavar.
He had complained of feeling unwell and wanted to walk rather than take a taxi with his partner.
Concern for his welfare mounted when his mobile phone was found the next day in the Whitechurch farmyard of farmer Margaret Leader as she headed to Mass.
However, despite an extensive search of adjacent fields, rivers and forests, no trace of him was found.
Four motorists and taxi drivers confirmed having seen a person matching Mr Twomey's description walking on the Whitechurch Road between 3am and 5am.
His remains were found when farmer Pat McAuliffe began work on a 108,000 gallon slurry pit on his land.
The pit was located 400 metres from where Mr Twomey's phone was found on December 20.
It was enclosed on three sides by a high fence and wall and, to the front, by high gates.
Ms Byrne said she had to tell her two daughters, Lily (5) and Katie (3), that their dad had gone to heaven.
"The outcome was devastating," she said.
"You never really forget it, you just learn to live with it. But he will be forever in our hearts and always with us."