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No prosecution over death of man at Belfast City Hospital

Published 28/07/2016

Sean Paul Carnahan, 22, who died in July 2013 after five months in Belfast City Hospital, with his mother Tracy Carnahan.
Sean Paul Carnahan, 22, who died in July 2013 after five months in Belfast City Hospital, with his mother Tracy Carnahan.

Police do not intend to prosecute over the death of a man at Belfast City Hospital, a lawyer has told an inquest.

Sean Paul Carnahan, 22, from the Beechmount area of west Belfast, died in July 2013 - five months after being admitted with a brain injury after trying to take his own life.

Doctors have been reluctant to give witness statements over fears they could be incriminated in a criminal prosecution.

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust barrister Mark Robinson said: "I understand that the police do not intend to prosecute."

Coroner Joe McCrisken said the decision was not surprising.

Family solicitor Aiden Carlin claimed concerns remained.

He said: "They should not be writing to anyone saying that they will not be prosecuting."

He added: "The family are deeply disappointed by the police investigation. A statement of complaint was made to the police two years ago and this investigation seems to have gone nowhere."

Mr Carnahan, an aspiring chef, was admitted to Belfast City Hospital in March 2013 after trying to kill himself.

He had previously abused legal highs and was left brain-damaged by the suicide attempt.

His mother, Tracy Carnahan, made a complaint to the PSNI alleging her son was allowed to waste away while in hospital.

Mr Robinson sought written confirmation from the police that there was no intention to prosecute and an indication by Mr Carnahan's family as to whether or not they are challenging that decision.

Mr Carlin said at this stage the family did not intend to pursue a challenge.

The Belfast coroner declared an inquest was the best venue to find out what happened and try to prevent similar deaths.

"At present there are no criminal proceedings anticipated. Let's get the answers that the family want, let's find out about Mr Carnahan's long death... let's look at the matters, let's not be derailed by any other satellite litigation," the coroner said

He said there had been no toxicological analysis or details brought before him about the legal high Mr Carlin was alleged by his family to have taken.

An inquest is scheduled for September.

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