Belfast Telegraph

Belfast inquest fails to find cause Cealan McKay's death

By Angela Rainey

The death of a young Co Down man found lifeless in his bed remains a mystery after an inquest was unable to pinpoint what happened to him.

Cealan McKay, who was 21, was found dead at his Glenveigh home in Newry on November 25 last year.

He had been heard talking on his phone around half an hour before he was found dead by his sister Corina Teggart, the coroner's court heard yesterday.

Although he had complained of chest pains and a sore throat a week earlier, neither was serious enough to have ended his life, the inquest heard.

Sitting together at Belfast Coroner's Court, State Pathologist Dr James Lyness, and consultant neuropathologist Dr Brian Herron confirmed that although an in-depth post-mortem was carried out by the two of them, no concrete cause could be pinpointed.

Coroner Joe McCrisken heard Mr McKay had not been suffering from any health complaints and was not taking medication.

He had not been involved in any trauma or sustained any injuries other than some "very small tan coloured bruises, which were old," around the upper torso.

Blood samples confirmed that he had taken the painkiller Co-codamol for a sore throat, but not more than the recommended dosage, and that there was nothing in his blood that may have killed him.

The inquest heard that Mr McKay had been diagnosed with epilepsy aged five after suffering seizures. He was prescribed medication, but had not suffered a seizure in over nine years.

Medical notes noted his epilepsy had been "resolved", and the inquest heard it was unlikely to have contributed to his death.

Dr Lyness said that Mr McKay suffered bouts of acute pancreatitis and that during his post-mortem some minor narrowing of his coronary arteries had been discovered, but nothing "significant enough to cause death".

Given a chance to ask the doctors questions, Mr McKay's father John, who was seated at the back of the court with Cealan's mother Geraldine, queried whether his son's excessive consumption of Coca-Cola and his folic acid deficiency may have played a role.

Mr McCrisken also raised the point that an excess intake of fizzy drinks can cause the heart to stop, but this was refuted as no caffeine had been found in toxicology reports.

Dr Lyness said: "As a doctor I want to make a diagnosis which solves the problem and for families to know what caused the death. I also have to be able to stand over the diagnosis but in this case we cannot find a firm cause."

He has recommended that immediate family members undergo DNA testing to rule out any genetic cardiac defects.

The coroner recorded the cause of death as "unascertained".

Belfast Telegraph

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