Police Ordered Not To Go To Aid Of David Dooley

Popular Acton man drowned in rough seas during Storm Callum

David Dooley

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The inquest into the death of Acton man David Dooley has heard that police officers at the scene were ordered not to go to his rescue as he was drowning off the coast at Brighton.

The 38-year-old railway engineer and father of one who had recently become a grandfather, was originally from Co Offaly. He had spent the evening of 12 October drinking with friends when he decided to brave the rough seas during Storm Callum early the following morning.

Police officers giving evidence to the inquest Brighton and Hove Coroner’s Court said that by the time they arrived on the scene he was too far out to be safely rescued. As the officers had arrived on foot they did not have a safety line which would have been part of the equipment in a police car.

The police were not able to find lifebuoys along the nearby stretch of seafront and they resorted to trying to obtain equipment from a nearby police station while keeping back members of the public who could see David struggling in the rough sea.

The police arrived at the scene at 1.23am two minutes after receiving the report. Just over ten minutes later David was no longer visible and his body was recovered around 2am following the arrival of the Coastguard.

A police officer giving evidence to the inquest said that a decision had been made that it was too dangerous to go into the water and that she was really sorry nothing could be done.

A statement from David’s friend Andrew Mather, who he had been with that evening said they had been out for the evening before sitting on the beach with cans of lager and chatting together. David went down to the water’s edge and then disappeared from view at which point Mr Mather raised the alarm.

The post mortem revealed that he was four times over the drink-drive limit when he entered the sea.

The coroner adjourned the inquest to allow further investigation of the possibility that the tragedy could have been averted if a lifeline had been available to the police officers.

The hearing is scheduled to resume at 10am on 19 March.

The Windmill pub in Acton where David was a regular put a fundraising page together to help funeral expenses and the cost of repatriating his body back to Ireland. Gerry Foley of the Windmill Pub said they were overwhelmed with the support with donations going into four figures being made.

February 14, 2019

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