Woman (66) found dead in awkward position at home

By Louise Roseingrave

A 60-year-old woman suffered lethal brain damage after she ended up in an awkward position under the influence of alcohol.

Anne McNeill of Walkinstown went out socialising with friends on Saturday January 7 2017.

dublin coroners court

She was seen returning home later and was described as ‘unsteady on her feet’.

She was found dead by her brother in a downstairs sitting room the following morning.

Her brother described finding her in an awkward position that looked like she was crouching or kneeling against the couch.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that while the woman’s level of alcohol was high, it was not at a toxic level.

Pathologist Professor Eamon Leen said the woman suffered a lack of oxygen to the brain due to compression of the blood vessels of the neck.

Deputy Coroner Dr Crona Gallagher described this as an unfortunate and unexpected outcome.

Prof Leen gave the cause of death as hypoxia due to positional compression of the blood vessels with alcohol intoxication as a contributory factor.

Prof Leen said the body’s natural reflexes would have woken the woman had she not been under the influence of alcohol.

“You can’t really survive for more than five to 10 minutes with prolonged compression of the arteries of the neck,” Professor Leen said.

“If you were not intoxicated your own reflexes within your body would wake you up before you got to this point...the alcohol would not have caused the death on it’s own,” Prof Leen said.

The inquest heard from the woman’s brother Martin McNeill who said she was in good general health.

“The last time I saw her she was getting ready to go out with friends,” he said.

He left the house himself around 6pm.

He found his sister ‘not moving or breathing’ in a downstairs room the next day.

Coroner Dr Crona Gallagher returned a verdict of misadventure.

“This was an unfortunate and tragic accident. She was socialising, she drank the alcohol but not with any intent to hurt herself. She was very unfortunate that she ended up in that position,” the coroner said.

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