Random attack | 

Parents of young Sligo man killed by stranger say HSE should ‘hang its head in shame’

Jimmy Loughlin (20) was killed after a man he did not know burst through the front door of his home and killed him with a crowbar

Richard McLaughlin.

Michael and Paula Loughlin pictured outside the Four Courts in Dublin on Monday.

Jimmy Loughlin.

Gerry McLaughlinSligo Champion

The father of a young man who received an apology from the HSE in the High Court after his son was killed in Sligo, by a stranger with a severe psychiatric condition, said there are still questions to be answered.

Jimmy Loughlin (20) was killed after a man he did not know, Richard McLaughlin, burst through the front door of his home in Sligo and killed him with a crowbar in February 2018.

Speaking after the High Court settlement in Dublin on Tuesday, Michael Loughlin said the family were thinking of contacting local representative to bring the matter to government level so that other families would not have to endure five years of agony.

“It does represent a bit of closure for us and the good thing about today is that we no longer have to deal with the court system, we no longer have to deal with the civil case.

“So, for the past five years since Jimmy’s murder we could not really say what we felt as there were on-going court proceedings hanging over us.

“But we can’t understand why it took so long for us to get some sort of justice for Jimmy.

“We had all the reports from two years before the Coroners Court and we had to wait and then when the Coroner’s Inquest took place there were so many errors.

"There was so much history with Richard McLaughlin, there were so many red flags, there were so many things that were wrong, and I feel that we still have to get to the bottom of it

“And we expect a type of enquiry into how all these mistakes were allowed to happen.

“We need answers to all the errors that took place. I am not sure about what type of enquiry, but we still have questions as to how so many things went wrong.

“This guy was a threat for ten years and doing bad stuff. For him to end up killing Jimmy and posting 1400 files under the name Lucifer and smoking cannabis is just so far off the Richter scale and not going to clinics.

“He was just able to do what he wanted, and it seemed that nobody really cared about him. That ended up with him killing Jimmy”.

He added:

“We are glad that part of its over, but we still have questions for politicians and the Minister for Health to say here’s our story and can we tell you what has happened and then you decide whether something needs to be done or something needs to be improved upon.

“We don’t want this terrible thing to happen to any other family and it was so random and barbaric, and it should not have happened.

“That would be our last request and then we could say we had done our best for Jim.

“We waited for due process and the HSE have given us an apology which we accept. But we would expect someone higher up to say hold on a minute and see whether there are any lessons to be learned, otherwise what is the point.

“We have good TD’s in Sligo and now they will know that they the civil case has been settled and we would hope to be in touch with one of them. I am not a politician ,and I don’t know how you get in touch with the Taoiseach, but it is public health issue, it’s of national interest and it’s for the people of Sligo so that it does not happen again,” said Mr Loughlin.

Jimmy Loughlin.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) Sligo/Leitrim Mental Health Services have acknowledged in the High Court on Monday “shortcomings” in the care of McLoughlin.

In July 2019, at the Central Criminal Court, Mr McLaughlin, with an address at The Laurels, Woodtown Lodge, Sligo, was found not guilty by reason of insanity of the murder of Mr Loughlin.

At the High Court on Monday, a representative of the clinical and management team at the HSE Sligo/Leitrim Mental Health Services “sincerely and unreservedly” apologised to Mr Loughlin’s parents for the “breaches of duty in the care provided”, which it acknowledged and accepts led to “untold upset, distress and harm” to them and their family.

The service wished to “acknowledge the shortcomings in the care of Jimmy’s assailant, Richard McLoughlin, as were highlighted at the inquest into Jimmy’s death, together with the verdict of unlawful killing rendered by the jury”.

Mr Loughlin’s parents, Michael and Paula Loughlin, of Ballintogher, sued the HSE over the care provided prior to the unprovoked fatal attack on their only son while he was getting ready for work.

Their counsel, Eoin McCullough SC, instructed by Damien Tansey Solicitors, told the High Court that the Loughlins’ case against the HSE has been settled.

Mr Justice Paul Coffey expressed his “deepest sympathy” to Mr and Ms Loughlin.

Outside the Four Courts, Mr Loughlin’s parents said in a statement that the HSE should today “hang its head in shame”.

Michael and Paula Loughlin pictured outside the Four Courts in Dublin on Monday.

"On the day our son Jimmy’s life was taken over five years ago all our lives ended. To add insult to grievous injury, the coroner’s inquest found he was unlawfully killed and established shortcomings by the HSE in the management of Jimmy’s assailant,” they said.

Jimmy was a “son to whom so much was promised and yet everything was taken”, they said, adding: “Unfortunately, no apology will now bring our son back to his loving family.”

Mr Loughlin’s inquest in May 2022 heard a consultant forensic psychiatrist attached to the Central Mental Hospital found Mr McLaughlin was schizophrenic and had started drinking and smoking cannabis at age 11 or 12. Mr McLaughlin admitted to having used ecstasy and cocaine, but told the psychiatrist he had given them up some years ago.

The inquest jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing, finding Mr Loughlin died due to traumatic head injuries from the assault.

In their High Court action seeking damages for personal injuries suffered, the Loughlins alleged the assailant was a patient of the defendants and was known to them as a person with a history of mental illness and violent tendencies.

Mr McLaughlin has been known to and/or in the HSE’s care for an extended period of time, they claimed. He was first referred to the adult mental health service in 2008 and has ben re-referred for paranoid ideation, paranoid schizophrenia and drug-induced psychosis on several occasions since, they alleged.

The HSE, the Loughlins claimed, has “at all times” been aware that Mr McLaughlin has a sustained history of episodes of violent behaviour.

It failed, omitted and/or neglected to take adequate steps to avoid the “real and present risk” to people living in proximity to Mr McLaughlin, they alleged.

The assailant consistently missed scheduled appointments and ceased taking medication for his mental illness, they claimed. The HSE failed to maintain him in its care notwithstanding their knowledge or notice that he was acting in a suspicious and paranoid manner, they alleged.

Liability was at issue in the case and the claims were denied.

Today's Headlines

More Courts

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos