Was a third-party involved in the death of Ireland’s Olympic boxer Darren Sutherland?
Forensic pathologist Professor Jack Crane, who is working for the Sutherland family, has, according to a report in a national newspaper, raised the possibility that, because Sutherland’s hands were tied behind his back when he died, a third-party may have been involved.
It was reported that Sutherland, a middleweight bronze medal winner at the Beijing Olympics, hanged himself in his apartment in Bromley, London on September 14th 2009. He was 27-years old.
Sutherland turned professional after the 2008 Olympiad, winning his first four fights. His manager Frank Maloney was the first on the scene at the time and was taken to hospital suffering from shock and a heart attack.
In an interview with the BBC, Maloney said that what he had witnessed in Sutherland’s apartment that day would remain with him for the rest of his life.
“I feel numb about it, to be truthful,” he said. “I don’t like closing my eyes. I don’t like being on my own at the moment. I hear his voice. I hear myself speaking to him.”
According to reports, Professor Crane, Northern Ireland’s state pathologist, who reviewed the initial post-mortem results, described them as “wholly inadequate” in a letter.
He wrote: “The presence of a ligature, even if only loosely tied around the wrists, raises some concern about the possibility of a third party.”
He also wrote that the post-mortem included no description of the ligature found around Darren’s neck, no description of how it was knotted, an “inadequate description” of the marks on his neck, and “a lack of detail in respect of the ligature around the wrists”.
“The standard of the autopsy is, in my opinion, inadequate and below the standards required by the Royal College of Pathologists.”
Sutherland’s inquest was opened and adjourned last September and a hearing is due to be held in November.
Derry solicitor Des Doherty, who is advising the family, was quoted as saying: “In view of the contents of Prof Crane’s report and his concerns about the possibility of the involvement of a third party in Darren’s death, we were left with no option other then to advise our clients to consider exhumation.”
The solicitors for Darren’s parents, Anthony and Lynda, said: “The purpose of making the exhumation application was taken after very careful and in-depth consideration by the Sutherland family of all issues surrounding Darren’s death at Bromley, Kent, on 14 September 2009. They feel that a second post-mortem on Darren’s body was necessary and that any subsequent report arising out of this examination will allow all relevant facts to be put before the coroner at the pending coronial inquest into Darren’s death.
“For this purpose, the Sutherland family engaged the services of Professor Jack Crane of the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Belfast to re-examine the circumstances surrounding Darren’s death. Professor Crane is an eminent and distinguished forensic pathologist who the Sutherland family believe and trust will provide them with a thorough and detailed examination of the circumstances surrounding Darren’s death.
“Whilst the Sutherland family do not wish to comment on the specifics of the recent media reports, they wish to state that they are simply focused on having all of the facts surrounding Darren’s death put before the coroner when the hearing reconvenes.”
Darren Sutherland won three Irish senior titles as an amateur boxing out of the St Saviours OBA club in Dublin.
He was part of the Irish 2008 Olympic boxing squad which included Ken Egan, Paddy Barnes, John Joe Joyce and John Joe Nevin.
Egan claimed silver at the Games, while Barnes and Sutherland won bronze. All of the Irish boxers in Beijing were beaten by opponents who went on to win Olympic gold.
Sutherland, Egan and Barnes won Ireland’s only medals at the 2008 Games.