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Friday 20 October 2017

'We had no idea our Andrew had used cocaine' - Sallyanne

Sallyanne Clarke. Photo: Brian McEvoy
Sallyanne Clarke. Photo: Brian McEvoy

Restaurateur Sallyanne Clarke has spoken of how she thinks of her dead son every second of every day.

She say the inquest into 16-year-old Andrew's suicide "opened up wounds" and "we still have the same questions now that we did when he died."

The teenager was found slumped against a car in the garage of the family home on Meegan's Lane, Crooksling, in Brittas, south Dublin on December 27, 2012 .

He died four days later at Tallaght Hospital and last week Dublin coroner Dr Brian Farrell returned an open verdict on the his death.

Andrew's mother has said dealing with his tragic loss had been made that bit tougher by the fact that she and her husband Derry, along with Andrew's 24-year-old sister Sarah May, had to do so in public.

The couple who own the world-famous L'Ecrivain restaurant on Dublin's Baggot Street found last week's inquest into Andrew's death "very difficult".

"You wonder what public service was achieved by putting all that in the public domain", she added referring to the reports of traces of cocaine, benzodiazepines and painkiller medicine found in his system.

"With all due respect to the Coroner's office, they couldn't have been nicer, but from a personal point of view, obviously we would have preferred if we didn't have to go through with it."

The court heard Andrew had no history of clinical depression or self-harm and his death had come "completely out of the blue".

His distraught mother also said they did not know where he got the cocaine.

"We still have no idea because he wasn't even a drinker. He was a driver and he was a very serious rally driver.

"We never worried about anything like that with Andrew. We don't know where he got it. We have no idea where it came from. We are in the dark as far as all that is concerned."

Sallyanne carries a photograph of Andrew at her own 50th birthday on the back of her phone and finds it comforting to look at the picture every day.

But "our hearts are broken. We are devastated. We will never get over it. We are trying to get around it.

"Work has been our saviour. Life goes on, but it will never be the same ever again for us. It can't be."

The restaurant is marking its 25th anniversary this year but Sallyanne pointed out "you can't have an inquest last week and be celebrating this week. Derry and I are only human."

As part of the healing process Sallyanne has been working recently with Teenline - a confidential, non-judgemental, listening service for teenagers who may be feeling alone, worried or distressed.

"Teenagers don't see the long-range picture. They don't see the long term. They don't think it through", she adds.

Working with Teenline, she says has shown her "how quickly teenagers' minds can change and how quickly they can make a decision."

The Clarkes found the inquest "difficult to get it all into your head again and get your head around it".

Sallyanne said they still have the same questions they had when Andrew died. "We still haven't got any answers and we probably never will."

csheehy@herald.ie

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