Derry dad Jeffrey McLaughlin died an accidental death by misadventure

The late Jeff McLaughlin
The late Jeff McLaughlin

A jury at Inishowen Coroner’s Court this morning ruled that the cause of death a Derry dad who died following an explosion at his house in Malin Head, was accidental through misadventure.

At this morning’s hearing in Carndonagh, Coroner John Madden told the jury of six he would strongly suggest that they consider a verdict of accidental death.

“Unlawful killing and suicide are out of the question,” he said. “There is no second party involved and no history of depression.”

Yesterday the court heard how Jeffrey McLaughlin spent the last hours of his life on October 31, 2014, ‘trick or treating’ with his children in Derry.

However at around 11.20 p.m. a loud explosion was heard at his house in Malin Head.

The 42 year-old’s body was discovered in the property just after 2 a.m. by emergency services.

The court also heard how the deceased’s Nissan Duke vehicle had been parked away from the house at CarnMalin on the night of his death. The number plates on the car were false, and had been placed over the northern plate registered to the car.

Dr. Margaret Bolster from the state pathologist’s office who carried out a post mortem on the deceased told the court this morning that Mr McLaughlin suffered multiple injuries, but would not have suffered.

“Death would have been immediate,” she said. “The injuries are consistent with blast injuries.”

Superintendent Kevin English said he had reason to suspect an arrestable offence of arson had taken place on October 31, 2014 and had designated the area around the house as a “crime scene.”

“From my experience I had concerns about what occurred and what part the deceased had to play in his own demise,” he said.

He added that there was evidence of the dousing of accelerant in the house.

A forensic scientist specialising in accelerants revealed she had examined the deceased’s clothing and found them to contain partially evaporated petrol vapour.

Speaking on behalf of the deceased’s wife Martina McLaughlin, barrister John Smyth extended his thanks to the emergency services for all they had done on the night of the incident.

He revealed that the couple had been married for eleven years and had three children.

“Jeffrey McLaughlin set up two businesses in Inishowen,” he said, “a proud legacy that has been carried on by his wife. He is a much loved husband and father who is sorely missed.”

The deceased’s sister Ursula McLaughlin paid tribute to her brother and said he would be loved and missed by them all.

Coroner John Madden offered his sincere sympathies for the family, and said he hoped this process being over would give them closure.