Noted writer's brother died after fall at home

The late Brendan Tobin.
The late Brendan Tobin.

A house in Enniscorthy was sealed off for forensic examination following the death of celebrated writer Colm Toibin's brother last January, a Wexford inquest was told.

The inquest before Coroner for Wexford Dr. Sean Nixon enquired into the death of Brendan Tobin, aged 65, of 9 Parnell Avenue on January 27.

A sister of the deceased, Nuala Stack of Bellefield, gave evidence of receiving a phone call from a friend, Catherine Grace, at 5.50 p.m. that evening.

Ms. Grace, who lives in Parnell Avenue, was concerned that she hadn't seen Brendan that day, and that one of the neighbours had seen blood on the kitchen floor when he looked through the window.

Ms. Stack said she went to the house accompanied by Ms. Grace and on opening the door, she noticed there was a lot of blood in the hall.

She found her brother Brendan lying on the sitting room floor. They dialled 999 and waited for the ambulance and the gardai to arrive.

Ms. Stack said Brendan was her eldest brother. She described him as a very lovable man.

A friend of the deceased, Catherine Brickley of Spout Lane, said she sometimes did some cleaning for him.

On Friday, January 25, he called to her house at at about 9 p.m. He had a bottle of whiskey.

They then went to his house and watched television. He wanted her to stay and have a drink but she couldn't. When she left him at about 11.30 p.m., he was sitting at the table in the sitting room. She was shocked when she heard that he had later died.

A Garda witness said he received a report that Mr. Tobin had died in his home. On arrival, he saw a lot of blood in the hallway and on the wall leading up to the stairs. The deceased was on the sitting room floor. He was lying on his back with his face partially covered. There was a lot of blood in the kitchen and what appeared to be footprints in it.

He said the house was sealed off for examination.

Deputy State Pathologist, Dr. Khalid Jabbar, said Detective Inspector John Hunt identified the body of Mr. Tobin to him.

He didn't visit the scene but he looked at photographs and also spoke to Dr. Bowe, his G.P.

He learned that there was a history of alcohol dependency and issues related to a psychiatric condition.

Dr. Jabbar said he found a major laceration and bruising on the top of the deceased's head.

In addition to the laceration, there was evidence of different grazes on the head and other bruises on the head and face.

'It wasn't an easy case to configure what had taken place,' said Dr. Jabbar, adding that Mr. Tobin must somehow have sustained a blunt force trauma.

He was on treatment and was essentially not drinking and the toxicology report did not reveal a high level of alcohol - it showed just 30 mg, equivalent to one glass of wine.

Dr. Jabbar said Mr. Tobin's alcohol dependency had predisposed him to acute alcohol withdrawal and he may have been suffering seizures because of this.

He said, in his opinion, the cause of death was acute blood loss due to haemhorrage related to a blunt force trauma to his head and torso, resulting from a fall or falls.

The Coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Dr. Nixon and Garda Inspector Pat McDonald expressed sympathy to the Tobin family on the death of Mr. Tobin.

Wexford People

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