Policeman delayed helping dying tug boat captain

A FORMER policeman has told an inquest how he delayed helping a dying man who had collapsed in front of him, saying he did not want to be “drawn into a situation he was not comfortable with”.

James Hore

A FORMER policeman has told an inquest how he delayed helping a dying man who had collapsed in front of him, saying he did not want to be “drawn into a situation he was not comfortable with”.

Gary Jay was passing Captain Ronnie O'Reilly's family home in Clacton and went to investigate shouting, saying he believed it was a breach of a peace.

Father-of-three Captain O'Reilly, who had a long-standing heart condition, collapsed in his kitchen within minutes of the officer entering the house and died on the way to Colchester General Hospital.

Doctor Nat Carey, a forensic pathologist, yesterday told a jury at County Hall, Chelmsford, Capt O'Reilly's heart attack may have been triggered by the stress he was under at the time Jay entered his home in June 2007.

He said: “The collapse in the kitchen was not a random event - you cannot ignore what was going on just prior to his collapse,” he told the jury.

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Dr Carey said it was “particularly important” to look at the moments just before the tugboat captain's collapse and concluded the cause of death to be sudden cardiac death, to do with, or as a consequence of, ischaemic heart disease precipitated by stress.

Jay, who has been convicted of assaulting both Capt O'Reilly and his wife, Moira O'Reilly, told the inquest he had also been sacked by Essex Police last year.

He said he only mentioned a breach of the peace once he was inside the house, but claimed he had not been violent.

“I have seen my own mother suffer domestic violence and that is the main reason I would not use violence against anybody.”

Jay said he had had asked Mrs O'Reilly to move to one side of the hallway, placing the back of his hand on her side, which he claimed caused a furious reaction from her husband.

He said: “I definitely did not move Mrs O'Reilly aside - I said 'could you please move aside'. Captain O'Reilly reacted to that and said 'no pig touches my wife'.”

Jay said Capt O'Reilly, who worked at Felixstowe docks, had then gone into the kitchen where he slid down the kitchen sink with his hands by his side.

“I could see Captain O'Reilly's eyes were still open, he was still breathing and his colour had not changed.

“My first initial feeling was that I did not want to go into that kitchen straight away with Captain O'Reilly until I had assessed what was happening.”

Jay, who lives in the Tendring area, told the inquest he initially refused to go into the kitchen, where Capt O'Reilly lay dying on the floor, because he did not want to be “drawn into a situation” he was not comfortable with.

When one occupant of the house asked if she should call for an ambulance, he told her “yes” but only “if she felt it necessary”.

Jay, who attended the house on his own, confirmed he did not know his whereabouts in Clacton so could not tell other officers where he was.

During interview, Jay told investigating officers he believed Capt O'Reilly was 6ft tall and 19 to 20stone, but a post-mortem showed he was just 5ft 7ins and 13stone.

Jay said his concern was for the welfare of a young boy in the kitchen who Capt O'Reilly had been telling off.

The inquest has this week heard from Mrs O'Reilly who called the former officer “arrogant, patronising, very antagonistic and condescending” as he confronted the couple and accused Capt O'Reilly of breaching the peace.

The inquest continues.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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