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Drowned man's mum flees court in tears as coroner finds no evidence tragic son was bullied

By Cate McCurry

Published 07/09/2016

Mark Mackay’s parents outside court in Belfast yesterday
Mark Mackay’s parents outside court in Belfast yesterday

A coroner has rejected claims that a young man who drowned in Co Londonderry was being bullied at work.

Marc Mackay (24) from Co Tyrone, died after entering the water in Portrush following a night out with work colleagues in August 2014.

An inquest into his death heard that the Dungannon man had told his workmates he was leaving the bar where they had been drinking to go for a cigarette, but he never returned.

His mother, Alison Falloon, claimed that her son had been the victim of bullying in Moy Park, where he worked, and said that she was shunned by his workmates following his death.

Belfast Coroner's Court heard that on the night before he died, Marc travelled to Portrush for a colleague's leaving do on August 2, 2014.

The workers met at the Harbour Bar restaurant, where they had dinner together before going upstairs to a bar, where they continued drinking. Giving evidence at the inquest into the death, Ciara McGoldrick, who works at the Craigavon Moy Park plant, said Marc appeared to be in good form and that everyone was having a good time.

She said that at about 9.30pm she saw Marc throw a pint of Guinness over Rodney Nicholl, which left him soaked in alcohol.

She said that Marc seemed annoyed and he claimed that Mr Nicholl nudged him.

"Things calmed down after that and Marc said he was sorry," she told the inquest.

"The atmosphere was a lot quieter after that. Marc seemed a lot quieter and seemed in a world of his own.

"He was looking out to the distance and was going in and out of the bar a lot."

When asked by the family's barrister, Andrew Brown, whether she was aware of any bullying at work, she replied: "No, not at all. It seemed like a tight-knit group."

When Marc left the bar at about 1am, he made a number of phone calls to his best friend, saying that he was going to jump off the pier.

He also sent a text message to his mother, saying: "I love you. This is nothing to do with you."

At about 9.30am the following morning, a couple walking on the pier found a number of his belongings and reported their discovery to the police.

Extensive searches were carried out in the area. However, it was not until August 14 that a couple out walking their dogs spotted his body lying face down in the water.

While Coroner Joe McCrisken was reading the pathologist's findings into Marc's death, his upset mother fled the courtroom in tears.

While addressing his mother's bullying concerns, Mr McCrisken said he could find no evidence that supported that claim.

"There was nothing in that particular incident other than a couple of workmates acting jovial," he explained.

"Marc's reaction was excessive. People said they were shocked and I think this incident allows a particular insight into his mind on that evening.

"His workmates could never have known what was to happen later."

However, his mother said: "I feel today could have been avoided if the guys that were there that night came and told me the truth.

"I got no answers - I got shunned, I got silence. I didn't get anything."

If you are in need of help, you can contact Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or the Samaritans on 028 9066 4422

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