Woman weeps as she tells of finding boyfriend's body after fall on Valentine's break
A MAN on a romantic Valentine's break with his girlfriend plunged to his death after the couple couldn't get back into their locked hotel which was staffed by just a cleaner, an inquest has heard.
Cathal Reilly (28) from Oldcastle, Co Meath, suffered a brain haemorrhage and a fractured skull when he fell 22ft to his death as he tried to find another entrance to the Sligo City Hotel last February.
Girlfriend Sinead Clinton (22) told coroner Eamon MacGowan at Sligo court how she and Mr Reilly were on a romantic Valentine break and had returned to the hotel at around 1.20am on Februrary 13 to find the front door was locked.
"There was nobody at reception," said Ms Clinton weeping in the witness box.
"The door was locked and we had our room key with us but we had no key to get in the front door."
She said the couple rang a bell and knocked on the door for around five minutes on what was a bitterly cold night.
Mr Reilly, she said, told her to wait at the front while he went around the back of the hotel to see if he could find another way in.
The victim climbed over a 7ft gate and went down an alleyway.
When Lidia Pesla, a Polish cleaner, opened the front door, Ms Clinton said she asked her to wait while she went to find her boyfriend. She climbed over the same fence and went down the unlit alleyway to look for him.
"I called out to Cathal to see if he was coming and I got no reply. I climbed on top of it [a wall] and jumped off it," she said.
"I thought it was going to be the same level as the ground I was on but it was a big drop. I landed on my feet and then fell on my knees. I looked up and saw how far I had fallen and felt sick. I also had an awful pain going up my leg."
Miss Clinton said it was very dark and she realised her boyfriend could be nearby.
"I couldn't see anything so felt around for him and I could feel his leg then," she said.
"It took me a minute or two for my eyes to adjust to the light and then I could see his face. His eyes were closed and he wouldn't answer me when I spoke to him."
He was pronounced dead later at Sligo hospital.
Cleaner Ms Pesla told gardai in a statement later that she was the only member of staff in the hotel that night.
"I knew I would have to go upstairs to clean the rooms and was expected to go back downstairs," she said.
Pathologist Dr Clive Kilgallen said Mr Reilly had died as a result of brain haemorrhage caused by a fractured skull.
Coroner Eamon MacGowan recorded a narrative verdict in the case, ruling that Mr Reilly had died as a result of a fall on hotel premises.
He ordered the alleyway should be fitted with lights and the 1.2-metre wall from which the Meath man fell to his death should be raised to a height where it could not be climbed over.