Coroner concerned over low wall beside Athy canal

THE County Coroner is to raise concerns about a low wall beside the canal in Athy.

THE County Coroner is to raise concerns about a low wall beside the canal in Athy.

Dr. Denis Cusack made his comments after hearing over eight hours of evidence into the death of Robert Stobiecki, 64 Leinster Street, on or around 15 August 2011.

The verdict came after nine months of behind the scenes investigation by the Coroner, the Gardai and Robert’s brother, Marek.

Dr. Cusack had received letters, from Marek, raising concerns about various issues, and as a result the investigation was widespread.

The Coroner concluded that the then 44 year old man’s tragic death was accidential and came in the context of huge alcohol intoxication.

A key element in the inquest at Naas on 21 May, which was held with the assistance of a Polish interpreter, was the evidence and questioning by the late man’s brother, Marek.

Robert Stobiecki, a well regarded lorry driver with Dunne Haulage of Timolin, was drinking with friends in Athy on the night of 14 August.

When he left his friends, his journey took him towards what is known as Augusta Bridge.

Evidence was given by eighteen witnesses, who were aided by CCTV from three locations in the town.

The inquest was show a gap in a wall at the canal bank and Dr. Cusack concluded that Robert Stobiecki had somehow entered the wall through that gap. His body was found in the water the next morning.

Dr. Cusack said there may be a good reason why the gap was there.

He said a very thourough investigation had been carried out by all concerned and the amount of effort put into it was at the top end, judging by his long experience.

He said there had been questions to be answered.

Marek Stobiecki had raised concern after some Polish people his late brother had been with on the night he was last seen alive, told him, Marek, they had not been with him. One of them told the Inquest said that Marek had hassled them.

They subsequently changed their minds and said they had been with him, it heard.

He also questioned why, at the initial Garda check of the accident scene, his late brother’s sandals had not been found and why Robert’s mobile phone or e-mail details were not made available.

Garda Inspector Jim Doyle said that care was taken at the initial investigation and it was not considered that any third party was involved.

Inspector Doyle also said Gardai were refused access to the phone data, which is made available under strict conditions. Robert’s mobile phone was never recovered.

Following detailed evidence from the witness box, pathologist, Dr. Michael Jeffers, concluded that death was due to drowning. In his expert opinion there were no marks to suggest any trauma or foul play. He said that Robert had 350mg blood alcohol level, which was deemed high, no matter how tolerant some indiviudals are.

Dr. Cusack said that Marek Stobiecki had provided 30 pages of documents to him.

But Marek told the Inquest that he had other information which he would not provide to the hearing.

The Gardai said they had give Marek every opportunity to give them an information they had, which they could investigate. He had told them he had information but would not provide it, Garda Inspector Paul Dolan, told the Inquest.

Dr. Cusack also expressed concern that evidence was beign withheld but said he could base his conclusion, only on the facts before him.

In conclusion, Dr. Cusack said the case had been a very difficult one.

He understood how difficult it was for Marek and Robert’s family – Robert’s wife, Joanna, is in Poland and did not attend but has asked for the verdict through the Polish embassy – to lose a brother and husband.

Both he and the Gardai sent their sympathy to the families on the death.