TRAGIC VICTIM OF THE BANKS; Hounded over Mortgage Arrears, a Barrister and Mother of Five Ends Her Life under a Train; 'She Was Upset at Social Welfare Cut'

Daily Mail (London), May 20, 2010 | Go to article overview

TRAGIC VICTIM OF THE BANKS; Hounded over Mortgage Arrears, a Barrister and Mother of Five Ends Her Life under a Train; 'She Was Upset at Social Welfare Cut'


Byline: Georgina O'Halloran

JACQUELINE Gallagher was a highly qualified barrister determined to support her five children.

But last October, under pressure from her bank to clear her mortgage arrears, she walked along the tracks of the Dart in darkness and sat down.

Minutes later she was dead.

Yesterday, at the inquest into her death, the 48-year-old's partner gave harrowing evidence about how she became overwhelmed by financial worries.

Ray O'Connor told the inquest: 'There was a problem with her mortgage, which was being paid by her ex-husband. The banks were ringing her quite regularly about it.' He suggested that Mrs Gallagher had got into financial difficulties after her social welfare payments were cut.

He also said that her estranged husband had threatened to stop paying the mortgage and the bank was pressing her on arrears.

The Dublin Coroner's Court heard that the security cameras at Raheny station captured her walking down the tracks before disappearing into the darkness, on the evening of October 23, last year. After 100 yards she sat down and was killed by an oncoming train.

Mrs Gallagher died of multiple injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. A toxicology screening found that she had a significant level of alcohol in her system. The mother of five children. who were aged between 11 to 21, was also on medication, the inquest heard.

Train driver Owen O'Neill told the inquest how he was pulling out of the station in the Malahide direction when he looked down and saw what he thought was a black bag on the line.

He slammed on the emergency brake and suddenly realised it was a person.

But, he told the inquest, there was nothing he could have done to avoid the crash. 'The train began to brake and then I realised it was a person because the person put their arm out and turned their face towards me.'

It happened in a 'split second', he added, and he explained that he is still traumatised by the events of that night. Mr O'Connor told how Mrs Gallagher's social welfare had been cut from e220 to e90 a week. She was upset and did not know how she was going to survive.

'Her sudden death was a great shock to me. …

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