Widower claims inquest ‘cover-up’

General views of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast
General views of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast

The widower of an Indian woman who died four days after giving birth to her son has alleged a cover-up over plans for a long-awaited inquest into her death.

Dhara Kivlehan, 28, died from multi-organ failure in Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital on September 28, 2010 after suffering a severe strain of pre-eclampsia and being airlifted from Sligo General Hospital.

Her husband Michael arrived at Carrick-on-Shannon courthouse an hour into a heated hearing on witnesses.

The 34-year-old – a single father to three-year-old Dior – launched a broadside from the public gallery after Coroner Eamon MacGowan offered to review the witness list but refused to commit to adding to the six names.

“It’s a bloody cover-up. My wife was Indian,” Mr Kivlehan said.

Mr Kivlehan added: “I’m very lucky that I turned up here today because of the state of my health.”

The widower’s parents Michael senior and Susan, who were in court for all of the proceedings, hurried him from the room.

The Kivlehan family have been in dispute with the coroner after he offered to hear evidence from six witnesses – two doctors from Sligo, two doctors from the Royal in Belfast, Mr Kivlehan and Dr Peter Boylan, the former Master of Holles St and a consultant obstretrician.

The Kivlehans said they want to see the coroner adopt the approach taken by Belfast Coroner Dr John Leckey, who had suggested 24 witnesses give evidence when the inquiry into the young mother’s death was opened in Northern Ireland.

Lawyers for Mr Kivlehan told the coroner his decision to call only six witnesses was bewildering and they threatened to challenge the decision in the High Court in Dublin.

The hearing was moved to the Republic amid concerns that medics from Sligo could not be compelled north of the border and after the Republic’s Attorney General Maire Whelan wrote to Dr Leckey to ask if he would agree to a change in jurisdiction.