An inquest verdict on the death of a man who drowned after absconding from Mayo University Hospital (MUH) will be delivered at Swinford Courthouse on July 22nd by Coroner Patrick O’Connor.

After completing the hearing of all the evidence yesterday in what has been described as a very complex case, Mr. O’Connor made it clear he will not be recording a verdict of death by suicide in the case of 69-year-old Patrick Rowland from Tubbernavine, Lahardane, Ballina.

 Mr. Rowland was suffering from pneumonia and sepsis when in the early hours of January 17, 2023, he left Ward B of Mayo University Hospital wearing only pyjamas and slippers and emerged through a basement exit into sub-zero temperatures

He had spent 43 hours on a hospital trolley in the emergency department before being moved to a bed in B Ward not long before he left the hospital sparking an intensive search for him in the local area.

An extremely lengthy inquest, lasting four days, at Swinford Courthouse this week, heard that when outside the hospital Mr, Rowland rang his son, Cormac, to collect him in Castlebar.

 But when Cormac rushed into Castlebar there was no sign of his father and a major search operation involving hospital security staff, gardai, fire brigade personnel and members and relatives of the Rowland family was mounted.

 Two days later, the body of the former procurement manager with Volex Ireland, was discovered in the Castlebar River.

Evidence was given yesterday that Mr. Rowland had made a failed attempt to leave the hospital around 9.30 p.m. some hours before he successfully exited the hospital at 1.08 a.m.

John Joyce, Security Officer at MUH, said that after being informed by porter Michael Grimes that a patient was “wandering around” he caught up with Mr. Rowland whom, he said, was very agitated and said he wanted to leave the hospital.

 Mr. Joyce said he established the patient’s name and brought him back to the emergency department where he refused to get back on his trolley.

Witness said he brought Mr. Rowland to the nurses’ station where he sat down with him for an hour until Cormac Rowland arrived and said he would settle his father down.

 In response to Roger Murray S.C. (Callan Tansey & Co)), representing the Rowland family, Mr. Joyce said that when he asked Mr. Rowland how he was feeling he replied: “I am not too bad. I just want to get out of here”.

Mr. Joyce said that at 1.25 a.m. he was told Mr. Rowland was missing.

He explained that on viewing CCTV he established that the missing patient had left B Ward at 1.08 a.m, went to the stairway and made his way to the basement where he exited.

Over the four day duration of the hearing, the inquest heard from a total of 35 witnesses including the late Mr. Rowland’s wife, Louisa, his son, Cormac and daughter-in-law, Marcella as well as numerous medical staff at the hospital.

According to members of his family, Mr. Rowland had been greatly confused during his stay in hospital.

However, the suggestion of confusion or delirium was denied by witnesses from the hospital

At the conclusion of the evidential process yesterday afternoon, Coroner O’Connor said he would not be immediately recording a verdict or making recommendations.

But he stressed he appreciated it was an extremely difficult time for the Rowland family and it was important the matter was brought to some form of conclusion on the circumstances that led to Mr. Rowland’s passing.

The coroner invited the legal teams from the Rowland family and the HSE to make written submissions to him on what the verdict and recommendations should be and said he would deliver the verdict in Swinford Courthouse on July 22 at midday.


Latest News