THE involvement of a ‘third party’ in the death of Olympic boxer Darren Sutherland will not be raised at his forthcoming inquest.
But it has emerged that the contents of a ‘disturbing note’ left at Darren’s London flat will be read out at the hearing, which is now expected to happen next January.
At a pre inquest hearing in London yesterday, a QC (Senior Counsel) representing Darren’s parents ruled a ‘third party’ out as having anything to do with the 27-year-old boxer’s actual death in September 2009.
He was found hanging from a wall radiator at his flat in Bromley, south London. His hands were tied by his side.
Northern Ireland’s State Pathologist Professor Jack Crane – an expert in deaths under restraint – reported that he was alarmed at this.
He also expressed concerns about the lack of detail about the material used to tie the hands and about marks or injuries on his body.
However, at yesterday’s 35-minute Croydon Coroner’s Court hearing in south London – which was attended by Darren’s parents Tony and Linda and his grandmother – the Sutherland’s QC Michael Topolski asked for other issues to be taken into consideration.
He also revealed the existence of a ‘disturbing note’ that Darren’s father found.
The exact contents of the note were not read out but it was described as ‘signed’ and may be the closest the family have to a suicide note.
He said: ‘We cannot and will not suggest any involvement from a third party in the act of hanging itself.
‘I can ask that in the circumstances of this case – given the very considerable public interest – that something by way of a wide ambit is necessary.
‘The sports minister of Ireland attended, a representative of the office of Taoiseach, a representative of the President’s office and bishops and the like (attended).
‘This was the closest to a State funeral Ireland has.’
He added: ‘We would wish to discuss what supports and help for young and talented sportsmen and sportswomen there is and we want to discuss the possibility that this was too much for young Darren to bear.
‘That is the ambit we seek to explore.’
Mr Topolski, who was assisted by junior barrister Jude Bunting, said the note that was found would be relevant to him being able to raise issues about the pressures Darren was under when he died.
He said: ‘There was a signed note that was not removed by the police found by Darren’s father when he arrived at the flat in the aftermath.
‘It is a note that is disturbing.
‘It chimes with the submission I make in regards to the ambit.’
He also said that investigations were still being carried out on Darren’s ‘phone and computer records’.
But he said: ‘We have interrogated the telephone and computer records.
‘They are not easy to follow and we are in the process of going through them with our lay clients.’
Mr Topolski also asked for evidence by two pathologists – including Professor Jack Crane – to be heard at the full inquest.
He said: ‘There were a number of items extracted from Darren’s flat, including photographs.
‘The family have no wish to see the photographs.
‘We also have documents from Mr Maloney’s private investigator which we would like to discuss.’
And he added that there might need to be more room made available at the hearing, which is likely to happen next January.
He said: ‘I’m told by my clients in addition to the three of them here, that they expect something between 10-12 family and friends to travel over for the final hearing.’
Judge Roy Palmer said: ‘I have told the Coroner’s Court a number of times about other rooms.
‘But it should be possible to do it in the third week in January.’
Andrew Walters, for the Metropolitan Police, spoke briefly after Mr Topolski – a leading human rights barrister whose cases include the Bloody Sunday and Dublin/Monaghan inquiries.
Mr Walters said: ‘I believe entirely with the questions he has made and the ambit he suggested.
‘We will agree that the evidence from the two pathologists should be heard.
‘We have no objection to the witness stated on the list.’
As well as Darren’s parents and grandmother, two lawyers representing the family were also at yesterday’s hearing.
Frank Maloney, Darren’s manager and sports psychologist Joe Dunbar were not at the hearing.
Both men had to break into Darren’s flat after he failed to turn up for training or answer his phone on September 14, 2009.
As part of their determination to find answers about their son’s death, his parents took the unusual step in September this year of having his body exhumed.
His tearful father appeared on the Late Late Show soon after his Darren’s death and expressed his complete shock that his son could have ended his own life.
‘I just can’t get my head round it,’ he told presenter Ryan Tubridy.
Clutching Darren’s Olympic medal, he said: ‘It was like Darren was standing there and a bolt of lightning came down and took him away.
‘He was not a person with depression. I’m absolutely 100pc sure my son didn’t suffer any sort of depression. There was zero reason to take his life.’
A war of words has since erupted between the Sutherlands and Frank Maloney, who managed Darren’s career.
In one exchange, the family demanded he not hold a tribute night in Darren’s memory.
In another, they are believed to have complained bitterly about the amount of time it took before they were notified of their son’s death.
Maloney – who suffered a heart attack hours after he discovered Darren’s body – and the Team he employed to work with Darren have all given lengthy statements to UK police.