Northern Ireland

Inquest to be held into death of homeless man Patrick McIlroy

Patrick McIlroy died in June 2022
Patrick McIlroy died in June 2022

 The Coroners’ Service has said it will hold an inquest into the death of a man who died of a suspected drugs overdose just days after being released from prison last year.

Patrick Mcllroy was one of six homeless people who died from suspected drug overdoses over a two-week period last June.

A former mental health worker, the 27-year-old had been sleeping rough for several years and struggled with addiction.

He was released from prison just three days before his death.

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His family say on the day he died he was taken to hospital by the PSNI but later discharged himself.

The Coroners’ Service previously said no inquest would be held but that decision was reversed earlier this week with a preliminary hearing date fixed for January.

The circumstances of Mr McIlroy’s death are currently the subject of the Prisoner Ombudsman investigation.

His cousin Martina McIlroy welcomed the decision to hold an inquest.

“Our Patrick never got the help that he needed," she said.

Patrick McIlroy
Patrick McIlroy

Ms McIlroy works with the homeless herself.

“Obviously, when I told a lot of the ones I am working with…some of them started crying and said ‘there might be hope for us’,” she said.

“We are watching the same thing happening over and over and these people are getting out of jail and there’s no help.”

Ms McIlroy said the death of her cousin had an impact on many.

“But we are happy, we don’t know what way it’s going to go, but we do think that, as much as everybody else who has died is really important, Patrick’s death is really significant, it really affected people and touched a lot of people,” he said.

“We think as a family if this happens that the prison will take more on board and take it more seriously and put addiction and mental health together.

“Because the trauma from their childhood, that needs to be taken on board.”

Ms McIlroy said there needs to be a better outcome “through the Prison Service, through coming out of prisons, through checking up on people”.

“There needs to be a facility…for these people who need help and support because they are vulnerable people, they are very, very vulnerable,” she said.

Legal representative Jack Murphy
Legal representative Jack Murphy

The McIlroy family’s legal representative, Jack Murphy, of McIvor Farell Solicitors, said: “We are glad that the coroner has reconsidered their previous decision not to hold an inquest into the tragic death of Patrick.

"We hope that this inquest will bring accountability and answers that the Patrick's family seek."

Prisoner Ombudsman Lesley Carroll said the investigation into Mr McIlroy's death is continuing.

"The death of Patrick McIlroy in June 2022 took place following his release from prison custody," she said.

"Within my remit I can investigate post-release deaths, normally up to 14 days after release, and I have undertaken an investigation into Mr McIlroy’s death which is ongoing."