A man who had not been seen for nearly six months, and was presumed to have gone home to his native country, was found dead in a City Council house, an inquiry into his death heard.
The cause of death could not be determined, however, due to the high level of decomposition, and an open verdict was returned.
South African native, Goolam Nabie Shahid Hassim (50), had moved into the house in Fana Búrca, Knocknacarra, with his wife and two step daughters about 13 years previously. It was around the same time as his neighbour, Philomena McDonagh, whom he became friendly with.
She told the inquiry that the marriage broke down in the summer of 2016, after which he became more withdrawn.
“He had been a lovely neighbour up to then, he was friendly,” she said.
“He stopped saying hello to people on the street; he was getting more into his religion.”
She last recalled seeing him in mid-December 2016, as he was heading to the bus stop.
“When I hadn’t seen him in January and February, I started to wonder. I said it to some neighbours, I tried knocking on his door, I then heard that he had gone away for Christmas and I thought he had stayed on longer or something.”
His ex-wife, who was living in Leeds at the time, gave a deposition to say that she had last spoken to him in late August 2016, but had received an email from him on December 12.
“While corresponding with Shahid in emails, he spoke about making a new start – he had a range of ideas, because his immigration status was vulnerable . . . he didn’t want to be deported, he wanted to leave on his own terms,” she stated.
“When I didn’t hear from him, I thought he had left the country, and that he would contact me again when he got sorted.”
She said that her ex-husband, whom she married in 2008, had been depressed and sad that she had left Ireland. He invited her to attend his graduation ceremony in November, but she had been unable to attend.
“We were on good terms and, while corresponding, there was kindness towards each other – there was no bitterness between us.”
Her daughter’s partner, Nigel Goldbey, told the Inquest at Galway Courthouse that he was aware that Mr Hassim had been due to either leave the country or look for work in Dublin. They had arranged with Galway City Council to move into the house at the end of May 2017.
However, they had been unable to contact him, and called to the address on May 12.
“I looked in the living room window, I saw a lot of blue bottle flies dead,” Mr Goldbey said.
“I opened the letter box and I saw all the mail piled up. I felt there was something wrong.”
He kicked in the back door and they entered the house.
“I said to Fern: ‘He is dead, you wait downstairs,’” he said.
He went upstairs and opened a bedroom door, and saw someone on the floor.
“I assume it was Shadid, I had met him briefly about two years before.”
Gardaí were called to the scene, and death was pronounced at 5.45pm. The subsequent investigation revealed that the ‘best before’ dates on the perishable food items in the fridge ranged between December 14-16 2016.
Neighbours were canvassed, and the general opinion was that Mr Hassim had not been seen since the previous Christmas.
His remains were taken to the morgue of University Hospital Galway, where consultant pathologist, Dr Birgid Tietz, carried out a post mortem examination on May 13.
During this, a muscle tissue sample was taken for DNA analysis – the Inquest was told that DNA profiles are inherited, and blood relatives are more likely to have similar readings; samples were also taken by South African authorities from Mr Hassim’s sisters and brother.
These were then sent for comparison to the Forensic Science Laboratory, and the results showed that “the DNA profile obtained from the tissue sample is approximately 121,000 times more likely if it is from the biological brother of Mr Hassim, rather than from an unknown unrelated man.”
Dr Tietz found that the body was in an advanced state of decomposition and mummified, which was consistent with death “many months ago.” For this reason, the cause could not be determined.
Coroner, Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin, returned an open verdict, that death had occurred between December 14-16 2016.
“The cause of death is unascertained, due to advanced decomposition, but there was no evidence of injury,” he said.
Mercedes on track to fulfil promise to drive down fuel figures
This week’s test car has become this month’s test car because most car distributors have shut up shop as per Government orders and I’m left with the Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake until everything is up and running again.
For this I’m extremely grateful to Motor Distributors Ltd (MDL) – Mercedes distributors in Ireland – for allowing me to hold on to this eye-catching car.
Those with an eye for style will understand why Mercedes-Benz has produced the CLA Shooting Brake. Those with a practical persuasion might ridicule it, but a closer look might just challenge that position.
You see, some of the dimensions give a lie to any thoughts of this car being too sleek and too low to be a proper estate. It actually has more space in the boot than their own C-Class estate, and more headroom than the C-Class coupe.
As for the car itself, apart from the ultra-stylish, sleek exterior and the classy interior, this car, like many other cars in the Mercedes brochure, has one outstanding highlight: astonishing fuel consumption.
About six years ago, Mercedes bosses told us that they were on a mission to drive down fuel figures and to clean up their diesel engines beyond anything that was around back then. Right now, they are well into that target and this car is testament to that.
So far I have travelled around 500 kilometres, with 680 kilometres still left in the tank. My current rate of consumption is reading at 4.3L/100km which has been achieved without breaking any limits and driving, for the most part, in ECO or Comfort mode.
CO2 emissions are calculated at 108g/km which gives you an annual road tax bill of €190. These are impressive figures and imply that diesel can still have a significant role to play in the future of motoring.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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New Covid-19 assessment clinic at Merlin Park
The HSE is opening a new assessment clinic at Merlin Park Hospital this week for Covid-19 patients who are showing mild symptoms.
The Community Assessment Hub is for patients who are confirmed Covid-19 positive and who require face-to-face clinical assessment.
Appointments for the seven day service (8am-8pm) are through GP referral only and walk-ins are not permitted.
A HSE spokesperson said the idea behind the hub is to keep mildly symptomatic patients away from the acute hospital system.
“The aim of the hubs is to divert mildly symptomatic patients who require medical assessment away from the acute hospital system by providing a facility in the community where patients can be seen, and clinically assessed by a team of nurses, doctors and physiotherapists,” the spokesperson said.
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Redundancies are not on the cards for Galway City Council workers
Redundancies at Galway City Council as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic have been ruled out by Chief Executive Brendan McGrath.
The local authority has imposed a temporary ban on recruitment, but is not planning to lay off any of its 520-strong workforce.
Mr McGrath said that down the road, if this crisis continues for a prolonged period, replacing staff who retire may not be possible. But for now, Council workers are ‘flat out’ maintaining essential services across a range of departments.
“No, we’re not planning that (lay offs). We will endeavour to keep our workforce fully employed. We’ve built up our team since the recession, a lot of our team and the additional bodies we’ve taken on are related to specific projects, for which there was various forms of grant aid available so I think we’d be confident that we will try to be able to retain the entire staff resource,” he said.
Nearly 150 members of staff have been set up to work from home, thanks to the ICT Department at City Hall.
Outdoor staff, and other office staff who must be at City Hall, are observing social distancing guidelines. Offices that used to be packed with people now have one or two workers, spaced in accordance with the guidelines.
As with the private sector, there have been changes to the ‘normal’ working week for Council staff, and some have been redeployed to other areas.
The Council has a statutory obligation to maintain essential services.
“Essential services are anything to do with homelessness; urgent housing repairs like plumbing and electrical; work on houses that were nearly complete to bring back into beneficial use and to bring back into use for self-isolation; public lighting is essential; burst water mains; maintaining traffic lights for road safety; and anything to do with water supply and waste water and treating effluent,” said Mr McGrath.
Street cleaning is classed as ‘necessary but not absolutely essential’, and is a slightly lower category than ‘essential services’.
The rota for street cleaning has been cut back to a number of times a week rather than every day, and this reflects the quieter streets due to people staying at home.
The city’s burial grounds are closed, but graves still need to be opened, and the Planning Department continues to operate.