Dublin's Coroner Court

Dublin’s City Coroner has slammed the pranksters who lodged a golf ball in a dead man’s mouth and caused great upset to his shocked family.

Dr Brian Farrell told the Dublin Coroner’s Court that the golf ball had been inserted into Kevin O’Doherty’s mouth between a post mortem and embalmment.

A report in the Irish Times says that Farrell was outraged by the incident, which was possibly a ‘prank’ and had caused unconscionable and malicious intrusion into the death investigation.

The doctor also told the Court that the ‘prank’ had caused great upset to the man’s family and was the subject of a police investigation.

O’Doherty was 48 and residing in the Dublin suburb of Rathfarnham when he died suddenly in January, 2010.

A postmortem at St James’s Hospital in the city two days later found that O’Doherty had a history of high blood pressure and had died of ‘a cardiac arrhythmia or abnormal heart rhythm due to hypertensive heart disease’.

When the body was then removed to an undertaker’s mortuary, shocked staff discovered a golf ball lodged at the back of O’Doherty’s throat.

Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan told the inquest that no foreign body was present at the time of the postmortem but mortuary workers discovered a hard round object at the back of the man’s throat.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis said that: “Had the golf ball been there at the time of the original postmortem, it would undoubtedly have been found.”

Police at Kevin Street station launched an investigation after a second postmortem was carried out by Dr Curtis.

Detective Inspector JJ Keane told the Coroner’s Court that he was satisfied the golf ball was inserted after the first postmortem and before the embalming.

“We’re satisfied the golf ball had nothing to do with the death of Mr O’Doherty,” added Detective Inspector Keane.

“We interviewed all of the staff at St James’s Hospital and at Fanagan’s mortuary and we’re at a loss as to how this came about. We can only surmise it was probably a prank.”