Quest for truth in suspicious death of Patrick Nugent continues

Gardaí have issued a fresh appeal for information into the death of 23-year-old Patrick Nugent.

THE family of a young chef who died in suspicious circumstances 40 years ago, along with Gardaí, have made fresh appeals for information about his death.

Patrick Nugent (23), from Feenagh, Sixmilebridge, County Clare, died in mysterious circumstances on February 11 1984 after he was found in a critical condition near Bunratty Folk Park in County Clare.

Now, a cold case Garda team has reopened the investigation and made a fresh appeal for information on RTÉ’s Crimecall programme this past Monday night (January 29).

There has been intense speculation into how the banqueting manager died on the night he oversaw proceedings at a wedding anniversary party held at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park for local chef William Ryan and his wife.

In the early hours of the morning, as the party was winding down, Mr Nugent was in the venue’s car park along with Mr Ryan and two off-duty Gardaí.

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Mr Nugent was reported to have said “he clocked me”, and it later transpired that his injuries were consistent with being struck by a vehicle.

The two Gardaí faced a disciplinary inquiry and Mr Ryan was charged with manslaughter but acquitted at his jury trial.

The Independent Review Mechanism, set up in 2014 to review hundreds of complaints of Garda investigations and conduct, recommended the case be further examined. This led to an inquiry undertaken by retired district court judge Patrick Clyne into the Garda investigation and subsequent Garda disciplinary inquires.

Mr Nugent’s family agreed to sign a confidentiality agreement in order to access Judge Clyne’s findings, which have not been made public.

Speaking during last Monday’s Crimecall programme, Martin Nugent, a brother of the deceased, said the Nugent family were still “no wiser” as to the exact circumstances that led to Patrick’s death 40 years ago, “even after an investigation, a trial, and an inquest”.

Martin Nugent said Patrick’s death “had a big impact on all of us, sure, but especially our parents”.

Mr Nugent’s father, Joe Nugent, died October 20, 1999, aged 73. His mother, Mary Ellen Nugent, died December 22, 2003, aged 79.

“It is important to get to the bottom of what happened, I still believe that the truth is there to be found,” Martin Nugent said.

“We definitely feel that somebody knows what happened and we would appeal for any information or anything that can help this investigation to draw a line under the events once and for all, and let Pat Nugent rest in peace.”

Garda Detective Inspector David Finnerty, of Shannon Garda Station, said that 60 people attended the function in Bunratty on the night, with some still in attendance at 4am.

“There they found Patrick in a doorway which leads to the courtyard, he was injured, and in a distressed state,” Detective Garda Finnerty said.

“Patrick received medical attention at the scene and was later transferred to Barrington’s Hospital in Limerick where, sadly, he was pronounced dead on arrival.”

Detective Inspector Finnerty said a post mortem examination conducted on Patrick Nugent’s body showed he had suffered “abdominal injuries which were consistent with crushing”.

Mr Nugent suffered a collapsed liver, internal bleeding, as well as lacerations to the lower lumbar spinal region.

Detective Inspector Finnerty said a cold case team operating out of Shannon Garda Station (061 365 900) would like to speak to anyone who attended the party, whether as a guest or staff member, any members of their families, or people who may have photographs or information from the night.

“We are utilising all modern day investigative techniques and it is hoped, with advances in technology, that we can progress the investigation,” he said.

“The trauma from the events of that night continue to be felt by Patrick’s family,” the detective inspector added.