Mystery remains over hotel death after inquest

A 20-year-old Derry man died after falling from the second floor of a Donegal hotel on a night out with work colleagues, an inquest has heard.

A 20-year-old Derry man died after falling from the second floor of a Donegal hotel on a night out with work colleagues, an inquest has heard.

The inquest into the death of Conor Duddy found that he had a high level of alcohol and some cannabis in his system when he fell from an open window of the Abbey Hotel in Donegal Town on June 20, 2010.

Coroner John Cannon said the reason Conor fell out the window will probably never be known. Mr Duddy died in Letterkenny General Hospital the day after the fall. The accident happened on a night out for staff from the Iceland store in Derry. About 20 staff from the store set off from Derry on a bus as part of a so-called mystery tour.

Mr Duddy’s father Noel told Letterkenny Coroner’s Court that his son - the youngest of three children - was in good form when he gave him a lift to the bus from their Lecky Road home. He said his son had drank two cans of beer in the house and had a bag with him which he later found out contained six bottles of beer. Mr Duddy said his son had suffered occasionally from depression and he had been aware that he had used cannabis. He said his son loved his job and was just a normal person “who had friends and went out just like everyone else”.

Passer-by Grace Harrington said Mr Duddy appeared to be very drunk when he get off a bus close to the hotel supported by two women.

Off-duty nurse Dawn Hannah had just left a nearby bar with a group of friends and family when she saw something fall from the hotel. She said at first she did not think it was a person. She said the man hit a sign on the way down and his head, neck and shoulder hit the ground first. She and a colleague who she was with, ran to carry out first aid on the man who was bleeding from the nose and mouth. An ambulance crew arrived quickly on the scene and he was taken to Letterkenny General Hospital.

Scenes of crime examiner Garda John Harkin said an examination of the hotel revealed a foot print of a shoe matching the pair that Mr Duddy was wearing in dust on the window board of a second floor window which was located close to on an emergency stairwell.

Garda Sean Rodgers traced Mr Duddy’s movements on the hotel’s CCTV cameras which showed him moving around the hotel on his own for about 35 minutes. None of the group were booked to stay in the hotel or intended to stay. He said he did not believe Mr Duddy could have fallen accidentally out of the window as he was too tall. “I believe he purposefully stepped out.” Mr Duddy’s colleagues who he spoke to described him as having been in good form, the garda said. He said it had been suggested that Mr Duddy might have been trying to grab a Donegal flag that was hanging outside the hotel 10 feet away from the window. He believed it was also possible that Mr Duddy had become lost. Garda Rodgers said the hotel has since put barriers up at the windows on the stairwell.

Pathologist Katrina Dillon said Mr Duddy died from a serious head injury consistent with a fall. A toxicology report found a high level of alcohol and the presence of cannabis.

The jury returned a verdict consistent with the medical evidence.

Mr Duddy’s father thanked everyone who helped his son on the night and the gardaí for their thorough investigation.

Coroner John Cannon said whatever the reason Mr Duddy fell out the window, it will remain a mystery.

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