Heartbroken sister speaks out after inquest

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THE heartbroken sister of a 41-year-old Ballymoney man who died from injuries sustained during a drunken fall said she believes if someone had contacted her “things might have been different”.

Mrs Karen Acheson, 49, who has 30 years experience as a nurse, said she believes there should be a “policy in place to contact the next of kin” when the PSNI brings a drunk individual home with injuries,

She said: “That phone call would have saved my brother. My parents had to bury another son.”

Mervyn McCormick was found unconscious in his apartment at Henry Street Mews on July 1, 2011.

Coroner John Leckey, sitting in Coleraine Coroners court, heard how the former bricklayer who grew up in Ballycastle, was “heavily intoxicated” at the time of his fall.

A pathologists report said he had sustained an abrasion above his right eye and had broken four ribs, in addition to other injuries.

It was not known if he had sustained the serious brain injury before or after returning to his home.

A constable, based in Coleraine, said police had been made aware of “a drunk male staggering all over the place” along Queen Street in Ballymoney. He said when he spoke to Mr McCormick he asked him if he was okay and he replied he was and “I’m just full drunk”.

The constable said he used his torch to look at his head where he saw a cut above his right eye “with dried blood around it”. He said he helped Mr McCormick into the back of the police car where he said he “was laughing and talking to us”.

“We took him back to Henry Street. He put his key in the door and went in. We spent 20 minutes with Mr McCormick and during this time he was jovial and happy.”

The constable added that although he was “drunk and unsteady”, he was “very coherent and in good form”. He said that he had asked Mr McCormick if he wanted to go to hospital to check out his injuries and he said no.

“We couldn’t force him to go to hospital,” he said.

Mrs Acheson - who said her parents Samuel, 79, and Charlotte, 74, McCormick have had to bury three of their five children - said she had deliberately put an ‘ICE’ [In case of emergency] contact for herself on her brothers mobile phone.

“But I know it’s not feasible for police to contact the next of kin of every drunk man they bring home because with every profession there is so much paperwork,” she said. “But in the case of Mervyn, I just feel the officers should have used more initiative. But it wasn’t to be. All our family have a Christian outlook and it was God’s time and that is how we have to look at it.

“Mervyn was very young but he had no quality of life as an alcoholic over the last few years of his life.

“He’s in a better place now.”

In a statement a PSNI spokesman said: “The PSNI extend deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Mervyn McCormick following his tragic death. The circumstances surrounding Mervyn’s death are currently under investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s Office and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

A spokesman from the Police Ombudsman’s office said they should be publishing the report into Mr McCormick’s death in the bear future.