Woman died of injuries sustained as partner removed her from house, coroner says
A trainee accountant in Northern Ireland died from head injuries sustained while she was being removed from a house by her partner, a coroner said.
Mairead McCallion, 36, was found by police hurt outside a flat in Omagh, Co Tyrone, and died the following day in February 2014.
Some of her hair had been pulled out by the roots, an inquest found. Opportunities were missed to seek medical attention while in the care of police, but even if she had been immediately taken to hospital she would not have survived the traumatic injury, coroner Paddy McGurgan said.
A criminal case against a suspect was dropped by prosecutors.
Her sister Patricia O'Brien declared: "We believe we owe it to Mairead to make sure that we do everything that we can to make sure that she gets the justice that she deserves."
Ms McCallion claimed she was grabbed by the hair and had her head struck against a wall during an assault.
The coroner found that the fatal trauma sustained involved an impact with Ms McCallion's head.
He added: "It occurred on the morning of Sunday 23 February whilst the deceased was being removed from 6 Castleview Court by her then partner."
She was discovered by police locked outside the house without a coat or shoes and died from bleeding on the brain a day later at the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen.
Her partner, Noel Knox, was initially charged with murder but the case was dropped after prosecutors raised concerns about inconclusive medical evidence. He denied wrongdoing.
The coroner said her alleged head injury was not reported by police to a forensic medical officer when she was seen at a police station.
He added: "The lack of details to the forensic medical officer represented a loss of opportunity in respect of the care and treatment of the deceased."
PSNI procedures have since been changed to ensure that injured people are referred to doctors or hospital, a senior officer told the inquest.
Ms O'Brien said: "We have always known that there were missed opportunities and it is some comfort that the coroner has now alluded to that and we believe that lessons have to be learned from this incident."
She said her sister was a lovely, gentle, intelligent, articulate, kind person.
"Mairead can never be replaced."
During Ms McCallion's time with police she became progressively more unsteady but blamed her high-heel shoes, and officers at the station did not raise the alarm with paramedics.
But she deteriorated on the way to a friend's house, an ambulance was called and she died in hospital.
Pathologist Dr Peter Ingram told the inquest there could be a period of lucidity in people suffering such injuries before rapid decline.
He said even if Ms McCallion had been taken to hospital initially, the outcome would have been no different.
The findings of the inquest were delivered in Belfast.