Terence Wheelock

Terrence WheelockMystery surrounds death in Garda station

Compiled from various sources
Originally published 20th November 2007

News updates on this case will be listed at the foot of this item

Terence Wheelock (20) was arrested with three others on 2nd June 2005 at 12pm, on suspicion of stealing a car. They were taken to Store St Garda station and detained in cells. The friends he was arrested with say he was in good spirits in the station. A statement which the family’s solicitor Yvonne Banbury took from a person detained in the station at the same time as Terence describes him as singing in his cell.

It is unlikely he would have been apprehensive about facing a possible criminal charge as he had an alibi accounting for his movements at the time the car was stolen.

Two hours after being brought in, at 2.40pm, he was found unconscious in his cell. Gardaí say that he was checked five times between 12.25pm and 2.40pm. A statement from another detainee at the station says they heard suspicious noises coming from the cell.

The Gardaí say they found him with a ligature around his neck – apparently this was the cord from his tracksuit bottoms. In order for him to hang himself he would have had to kneel on the ground and tie the ligature to a wall fixture.

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The Gardaí tried to resuscitate him and the fire brigade brought him to the Mater hospital. He never regained consciousness and was put on a life support machine. The family were told that he would be somewhere else.

Terence’s mother Esther recalls: “He was up painting in his room and said he needed a new brush; the one he had was no use, so I gave the money to go out and get one. He said he wouldn’t be long.

Next thing I knew the police was at the door. They just turned around and told me there and then my son’s [was in hospital] after hanging himself. I didn’t know what to do, I was taken aback. ‘Come on’ they said, ‘I’ll take you down to the hospital’. So they brought me out over to St James’ Hospital. On the way over they said ‘Could you tell me where St James’ is? I don’t know where it is’. I had to show them the directions.” The Garda say this was a “misunderstanding between the Gardaí and the ambulance control”.

When eventually visiting Terence in intensive care, his brother Larry recalls: “We noticed bruising… We asked the doctors could they photograph them or would we photograph first with our mobile phones and they said no, and so that what is the procedure in a case like this is that they’ll do the photographs themselves.

So the next day they took something from up to fifteen to twenty still photographs of Terence’s body and there appeared to be extensive bruising…which completely contradicts the Garda press release where it states that there was no bruising whatsoever on Terence’s body noticed by them or by the paramedics that came.”

According to Larry and Esther, in the hospital the neurologist Dr Kelly told them “the main trouble with Terence is all his organs and all are working perfect but he has a cerebral oedema which is a swelling of the brain and also with a lot of fluid from the top of the brain and down to the stem part.

I was there, I said to the doctor what causes something like that to happen, and he said the reason Terence is like that is from the major blow or bang he received to the head.”

Terence Wheelock died 3 moths later in hospital on the 16th September 2005. The Garda Press Office made a statement, claiming that Terence had tied a ligature around his neck, and secured this to a “fixture” which was “counter sunk into the wall” at the height of two and a half feet.

The subsequent renovating of the cell after his death, and the lengths to which the Gardaí went to prevent the family from accessing his clothes, has raised many serious and troubling questions about what happened to Terence Wheelock while in custody in Store Street on June 2nd, 2005.

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Follow-up News:

Two years have passed and the Wheelock family still have no answers
8 June 2007

The Death of Terence Wheelock: Report Pursuant to Section 103 Following Investigation (PDF file)
(date unknown)

Justice for Terence Wheelock
23 June 2006

Terence Wheelock: looking for justice
4 July 2013

No way to celebrate your son’s 21st – time for an independent inquiry into a death in Garda custody?
23 March 2006

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