Wednesday 11 December 2019

Heart attack killed dad who collapsed during violent dispute in street

John O’Reilly, uncle, and Nigel Holmes, brother of Karl Holmes after the inquest at the Coroner’s Court
John O’Reilly, uncle, and Nigel Holmes, brother of Karl Holmes after the inquest at the Coroner’s Court
Karl Holmes

A man who collapsed during a violent dispute in a Tallaght housing estate four years ago died from a heart attack and not as a result of any physical injuries he received, an inquest has heard.

Father-of-three Karl Holmes (44) had driven to Avonbeg Gardens on the evening of September 3, 2015, after learning there had been an earlier altercation at his address in nearby Homelawn Drive.

Evidence was given at the inquest by the first garda on the scene, Brian Hurl, that he received a report of a fight at Avonbeg Gardens at 5.35pm.


When he arrived 10 minutes later at the same time as Dublin Fire Brigade paramedics, he saw Mr Holmes lying on his side on the road in the recovery position and covered by a foil blanket that one of the neighbours had put on him.

Paramedics began treating Mr Holmes immediately, but there was no pulse and he was not breathing.

Detective Inspector John Walsh told Dublin Coroner's Court Mr Holmes was not present at his home when the first altercation had occurred, but learned about it shortly afterwards, possibly by phone.

"He became aware of it and drove to the other parties' address where a dispute arose at Avonbeg Gardens involving the deceased," he said, adding the altercation involved between two and five other individuals and Mr Holmes, and lasted two or three minutes.

"Then he basically collapsed after getting back into his vehicle, and members of the public realised he was having a heart attack and removed him."

The incident was initially treated as a possible murder but was downgraded when the post-mortem revealed he died from a heart attack.

There were 66 lines of inquiry in the investigation, 86 statements were taken, five people were arrested and two people were charged with violent disorder but acquitted at trial in December last year.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis gave evidence that the post-mortem on Mr Holmes revealed that while there were bruises and abrasions on his body consistent with an assault, they were not of significance in relation to his death.


He said Mr Holmes had an enlarged heart with narrowing of two main arteries and fibrous scarring indicating a previous heart attack.

He said that Mr Holmes's heart disease was "very severe" and, while he could have died at any time, his death could have been accelerated or precipitated by the stress of the fracas.

The jury recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.

After the inquest, Mr Holmes's brother Nigel said this will be welcomed by his family, including his mother Breda.

"Karl didn't know he had heart disease, and we didn't either obviously. He had what he thought was heartburn most of his life and had been at the doctor about it that week," he said. "This is closure now, and it is what it is."

Holmes, a former boxer, was previously jailed for five years for causing grievous bodily harm to 19-year-old neighbour Thomas Weekes, who died three days after being head-butted by him in 1992 in a row as they were drinking.

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