Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

The truth behind schoolboy’s death ‘will never be known’

Northern Ireland's top coroner said the truth about the death of a schoolboy will probably never be known.

John Leckey apologised to the family of Jamie Neil Moreland — who drowned in a Belfast river while intoxicated — after the inquest.

A detective told the court there was no evidence to suggest foul play was behind the tragedy.

But a family friend, invited to speak at the inquest, said he thought the boy could have been running away after an altercation with, or was being chased by, a man called Brent Hagen when he entered Connswater River in east Belfast.

A post mortem examination found Jamie was three times over the drink-drive limit. The pathologist said he found no significant injuries.

Yesterday’s Belfast hearing was told the Movilla High student (15), spent May 16 last drinking with friends while watching band parades on the Newtownards Road.

He became separated from his friend and went to a house at Inverary Drive in Sydenham with a number of people, including Mr Hagen, the inquest heard.

The court heard no-one present, except Mr Hagen, could recall seeing him leave. When he failed to return home the next day, his mother Michelle Moreland reported him missing. His body was found face down in the river on May 19.

Mr Hagen told the court he left the house at Inverary Drive about 20 minutes after Jamie. He admitted he was drunk and recalled nothing further until he woke up in an ambulance.

Det Sgt Stephen Brown said there was no evidence supporting a theory Mr Hagen may have been involved in the boy’s death.

He said the ambulance crew found Mr Hagen drunk with no apparent injuries and nothing to suggest any contact between the two. Nothing in the pathology support indicated any assault.

He added: “There were no suspicious circumstances.”

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