Sunday 24 March 2019

Brian's family settle claim against State for ¤200,000


THE family of teenager Brian Rossiter, who died two days after spending a night in Garda custody, have settled their claim for alleged wrongful death against the State for ¤200,000.

The six-year battle, described as 'gruelling' by the boy's parents and legal representatives, was settled on Friday, but without any admission of liability.

Brian, the fourth of Pat and Wexford woman Siobhán Rossiter's seven children, moved with his mother and three younger siblings to Mount Prospect, Clonard, in Wexford town on August 31, 2002, after the couple separated.

Earlier this month a jury returned an open verdict at the inquest into the death of the 14year-old schoolboy who died two days after being found unconscious in a cell at Clonmel Garda Station in September, 2002.

Brian's father Pat Rossiter said the wrongful death suit 'was never about money' and said he hoped the resolution of the action would restore some semblance of normality to their lives.

Under civil liability laws, the maximum that can be awarded to grieving relatives is ¤25,000 and families cannot claim additional damages for emotional loss and suffering. But the State, which denied the claims, tendered an additional ¤175,000 in court.

The civil action was taken on behalf of the family by Brian's mother, Siobhán Rossiter, Harbour House, New Quay, Clonmel, against the Minister for Justice, the Garda Commissioner, the Attorney General and Ireland. High Court president Mr Justice Richard Johnson approved the settlement.

After he lost consciousness during his time in detention, and following resuscitation, he was taken to St Joseph's Hospital Clonmel before being transferred to Cork University Hospital, where he died on September 13, 2002.

The action was for the mental distress caused to the Rossiter family due to their love, affection and closeness to Brian.

The claim was also for the loss of financial dependency at the time of Brian's death and into the future and for the funeral and other expenses incurred due to his death. The State denied that Brian was assaulted, battered or subject to wrongful acts by the Gardai or that any head injuries were inflicted by members of the gardai.

The State argued that prior to his detention, Brian was subject to an unlawful assault on September 9 when he sustained head and other injuries.

In a letter read to the court, on behalf of the Chief State Solicitor confirming the agreement, the authorities said that they 'regret the tragic death of Brian Rossiter and acknowledged the distress suffered by his family in their loss'.

'The authorities also accept the earlier findings that the detention of Brian Rossiter was unlawful, that the Treatment of Persons in Custody Regulations were not observed properly and furthermore the circumstances of Brian Rossiter's death were not properly investigated at the time.'

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