A DNA sample taken from a razor blade belonged to elderly fire victim, was crucial in positively identifying the man’s remains.
On April 4 this year, 86-year-old Patrick Behan died after “a very serious inferno” at his home at Tonavoher near Knockerra, Kilrush.
An inquest in Ennis heard how high flames and the roof caving in at the home rendered neighbours helpless in any effort to save Mr Behan, who required a walking aid to get around.
Neighbour, Tommy Donnellan told the inquest that he was able to see an outline of Mr Behan’s body face down on the floor of the kitchen as the fire raged. His remains were not formally identified until April 12 when DNA analysis came back.
Garda Robert Wilson said that gardaí were able to retrieve a razor blade from Mr Behan’s car and in a DNA comparison with tissue from the remains, the authorities positively identified Mr Behan’s remains.
A friend of Mr Behan and local farmer, Pat O’Malley gave evidence and told the inquest that he would call in on his friend twice a day. He was the last person to see Mr Behan alive and told the inquest that he dropped up, as requested, plain biscuits, soup and orange to Mr Behan and remained on to chat with his friend on the evening of April 4.
At around 6pm, Mr O’Malley told Mr Behan that he would see him the next day. However, at 10pm that night, Mr O’Malley received a call to say that Mr Behan’s home was on fire.
He said, “I knew there was a possibility that Paddy might have been caught inside. I was hoping that he got out.”
Garda Wilson said that gardaí were satisfied that Mr Behan died as a result of a tragic accident. Because of the scale of fire damage in the home, gardaí were unable to say how the fire had started.
County Coroner, Isobel O’Dea found that the fire was caused accidentally and that Mr Behan died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning secondary to smoke inhalation.
Ms O’Dea returned a verdict of accidental death.
Inspector Paul Slattery said that it obvious that Mr Behan was very popular and that “it is a tragedy that he passed on in these circumstances”.