Northern Ireland

Dolours Price inquest: Old Bailey bomber died after taking toxic mix of medication

Dolours Price Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Dolours Price, who was jailed over an IRA bomb attack on the Old Bailey in London in 1973, was found dead at her home in Dublin in January 2013

The convicted IRA bomber, Dolours Price, died as the result of taking a toxic mix of prescribed medications, an inquest has ruled.

The Belfast native was found dead at her home in Dublin on 23 January 2013.

The former prisoner was jailed for her part in the IRA bombing of London's Old Bailey in 1973, which injured 200.

On Tuesday, Dublin Coroner's Court ruled she died after taking a mix of sedatives and anti-depressants. It recorded a verdict of misadventure.

The coroner said there was no evidence to support a verdict of suicide.

The mother-of-two, who was formerly married to the Hollywood actor Stephen Rea, was found dead at her house on St Margaret's Road, Malahide, by one of her two sons.

College controversy

The court heard Danny Rea discovered his 62-year-old mother's body after returning home from college at about 21:00 GMT on the day of her death.

The student told the inquest that he found his mother lying in bed.

"She wasn't breathing and wasn't moving. I knew straight away that she was dead," he said.

In recent years, Ms Price had aligned herself with dissident republicans and was an outspoken critic of the IRA leadership and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.

In the months before her death, she was engulfed in controversy over allegations she made during interviews with researchers from Boston College in the US.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Dolours Price, who was originally from Belfast, was an active IRA member in the early 1970s

She claimed that during her time in the IRA, Mr Adams had been her commanding officer and ordered the 1972 murder of Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville, an accusation he has repeatedly denied.

She also claimed that she drove Mrs McConville to the place where she was killed.


Ms Price was an alcoholic and the inquest heard details of her drinking on the days leading up to her death.

Danny Rea told the court that three days before he found his mother's body, she had been drinking and was admitted to Dublin's Beaumont Hospital following a fall down the stairs.

She had discharged herself from hospital within a few hours and returned home where resumed drinking and took valium, the student said.

She continued taking alcohol the following day and Mr Rea said that when he left the house on the morning of her death, she was lying on the bed asleep and snoring.

When asked by coroner if his mother had ever discussed thoughts of self-harm, Mr Rea said that she commented more on "the self-destructive nature of her condition, not any direct intentions".


Her other son, Oscar Rea, told the court he last saw her at 17:30 on the day of her death when he went to check on her before leaving the house to go to his father's to complete an essay.

He also said that she was lying on the bed and snoring.

He later found out that something was wrong when he got a phone call from his brother, Danny.

"He was in a panic and saying that my Mam wasn't breathing or moving. My Dad rang the ambulance but he was also quite panicked," Oscar Rea said.

Paramedics attempted to resuscitate her, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

A police officer told the inquest that no note or letter from Ms Price had been found and said there were no suspicious circumstances related to the death.

A post-mortem examination found no alcohol present in her body at the time of her death.

A toxicology report found therapeutic levels of a number of benzodiazepines including temazepam and diazepam and the anti-psychotic quetiapine.

The anti-depressant mirtazapine was also present at toxic, but not fatal, levels.

A pathologist gave the cause of death as cardio-respiratory failure due to mixed drug toxicity involving prescribed medications affecting the lungs and heart.

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