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Drowned road worker's death still a mystery: inquest

By Alan Erwin

Published 07/09/2007

The death of a road worker found drowned in inches of water on the northern outskirts of Belfast remains a mystery, an inquest heard yesterday.

Uncertainty still surrounds exactly what happened to Paddy O'Rourke (49), after he vanished on St Patrick's Day 2003.

It was confirmed that Mr O'Rourke, whose body was discovered six days later, was sober at the time he died.

Coroner John Leckey said he understood why the family believed there could be more to his death than established.

Mr Leckey told the hearing in Belfast even the time of death was difficult to establish.

He added: "The strange thing is there were no injuries found to indicate a struggle.

"Although if you did think there was a sinister background to it this would be an ideal place to commit a murder."

Mr O'Rourke was found lying in a pool of water 10 inches deep on waste ground near Corr's Corner, Newtownabbey, police said. He had not been seen since leaving his home at Upper Stanfield Street, Belfast the week before.

His wife, Margaret, told Belfast Coroner's Court he had no reason to be in the area where his body was found.

"I feel in my heart there's something more but I can't prove it," she said. "I just feel as if something more happened."

Mrs O'Rourke named a man she believed could help provide answers to what happened to her husband. Any time her daughter sees him in town he runs from her, she added.

A police sergeant confirmed officers have been unable to locate this man, even though an alert has been circulated.

Assuring Mrs O'Rourke that another inquest could be opened if new information emerges, Mr Leckey told her: "I can understand your concerns and why you want an explanation about the circumstances in which your husband died. Unfortunately it seems to me that questions remain unanswered."

Mr Leckey said Mr O'Rourke had died from drowning.

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