Thursday 17 January 2019

Teen with 'eggshell skull' died after being punched by brother in rugby row

The brothers were watching Wales and Fiji on television
The brothers were watching Wales and Fiji on television

A teenager died of injuries he sustained in a row with his younger brother while watching a rugby match, an inquest has heard.

The 18-year-old sustained a blow to the side of the head that resulted in a fatal brain injury.

The two brothers were at the family home in the midlands when a row erupted during the Wales versus Fiji match on October 1, 2015.

The younger brother called for quiet when his mother entered the room while the match was on. The elder brother spoke up in defence of his mum, Dublin Coroner's Court heard.

The pair exchanged words and there was some pushing between them when the older brother picked up a stool and held it in the air. The younger brother struck the older one with "two or three punches" before their father stepped in.

"It was over in seconds. Around 20 minutes later he complained of a headache and said he was feeling unwell. I told him to lie down and take some Panadol," the boys' father said.

In his deposition, the younger brother, who was not present in court, said: "He squared up to me and I struck him in the face, twice in the same place, with my fist.


"Dad said 'that was stupid' and I shouldn't have done it... I don't know why I hit him, it was just a reaction. Straight away I asked myself, 'why did I do that?'.

He added that, soon after: "He [the older brother] said he was not feeling well, he looked unwell, he was leaning against the wall... He said to me, 'will you ring an ambulance?'."

When paramedics arrived and spoke to him, the teenager told them "I'm in bits".

"He was talking and making sense when we arrived but he deteriorated quickly, his level of consciousness began to drop," the paramedic said.

The teen was rushed to Portlaoise Hospital and later transferred to Beaumont Hospital, where he died three days later.

A post-mortem examination revealed he had an unusually thin skull, a congenital condition often referred to as "eggshell skull".

State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy said the injury was caused by a glancing blow to the side of the head - the thinnest part of the skull, which was less than one millimetre thick.

"It was a simple strike to the left side of the head. It wasn't even a direct blow, it was a glancing blow that caught the left side of his head," Prof Cassidy said.

The blow resulted in a skull fracture, which caused a tear in a blood vessel, resulting in a haemorrhage.

"The force caused the bone fragment to cut into the blood vessel and the bleeding caused pressure to build up inside his head," Prof Cassidy said.

The cause of death was head injury in association with a congenitally thin skull and the jury returned a narrative verdict.

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