Tragic death | 

Criminal probe into Covid victim Joe McCarron’s hospital exit 'making progress'

A senior investigating officer is investigating “all the circumstances”

Covid sceptic Joe McCarron (67) died with the disease last month

Ali Bracken

Gardaí are “making progress” in their investigation to determine whether any criminal offences were committed during patient Joe McCarron’s departure from hospital with anti-vaccination campaigners, including whether hospital staff were threatened.

A senior investigating officer is investigating “all the circumstances” surrounding the decision of Mr McCarron to reject medical advice and leave Letterkenny University Hospital despite the efforts of medical staff to persuade him to remain.

Covid-sceptic Mr McCarron (67) left the hospital but returned two days later and subsequently died. He was encouraged to leave Letterkenny University Hospital despite the best efforts of medical staff to persuade him to remain.

In a video that later went viral, Italian anti-vaccination extremist Antonio Mureddu is seen encouraging the Donegal man to leave the hospital despite a doctor conveying stark concerns, including that he could die.

A senior security source said that a criminal investigation into the matter, which was under way before the man died, is progressing well. “It will come down to whether this patient was forced or coerced to leave hospital.”

They are also looking at issues such as trespass and whether hospital staff were threatened.

Antonio on the video which he filmed inside the hospital

“Ultimately, all the facts of this case will be outlined to the DPP and it will be their call on whether any persons connected to this incident should face criminal charges,” the source added.

Garda investigators are in the process of interviewing medical staff at the hospital and Mr McCarron’s family members, it is understood. They are also examining the video.

On September 14 Mr McCarron was encouraged to leave, against medical advice, by Mr Mureddu.

In the video, the Italian man can be seen telling Mr McCarron to “put your trousers on, we are going now, you are safe, you follow me”.

A staff member tells Mr McCarron that he has the right to decide what he wants to do but that he does not think what he is being told to do is right.

“You are barely able to breathe there now,” the medic tells him, “we want you to stay and help you.”

The Italian man then says: “No Joe, they’re going to f***ing kill you Joe,” and then says to the staff member “because you are killing people”.

The medic then tells Mr McCarron: “I’m very worried about you and I want you to stay. I think he is saying something very dangerous. What he is saying is very wrong and very dangerous and I think he is endangering your life.

“It is a very difficult disease that you have,” the hospital staff member says to Mr McCarron, “and I’m not lying to you, you could die. This will be your best chance in the hospital and getting the support we are giving to you.”

Mr Mureddu then intervenes and accuses the hospital staff of “lying” and says: “We go.”

“Think about this,” the staff member then tells the Italian man. “You are endangering his life.”

Staff at the hospital pleaded with Mr McCarron to stay but he opted to leave the hospital. Two days later Mr McCarron was readmitted to hospital.

He was placed on a ventilator, but his condition deteriorated and he died. He was laid to rest last Sunday.

His family have since been very critical of what happened to him and urged people to follow medical advice in relation to Covid-19.

The Saolta Hospital Group, which is responsible for Letterkenny University Hospital, has expressed “grave concerns” about the impact of Covid-19-denying activists on staff and patients.

It has declined to comment on the specifics of an individual case.

Garda investigators are now determining what crime, if any, may have been committed.

There is an offence of endangerment that states, “A person shall be guilty of an offence who intentionally or recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of death or serious harm to another.”

The offence carries a maximum sentence of 12 months in prison in the District Court and up to seven years in the Circuit Court.

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