Stardust jury to continue deliberations on Wednesday as it nears verdicts

Jury of five men and seven women will enter its 11th day of deliberations

The jury in the Stardust fire inquests will begin an eleventh day of deliberations on Wednesday having said on Tuesday it was “very close” to reaching verdicts.

On Tuesday afternoon Dublin coroner Dr Myra Cullinane provided answers to a number of questions asked by the 12-person jury earlier in the afternoon. The questions centred on the factors that must be met to return verdicts of unlawful killing in respect of the 48 deaths in the nightclub fire disaster.

Wednesday marks the one-year point since the jury was empanelled for the inquests into the deaths of 48 people, aged between 16 and 27, who died as a result of a fire in the north Dublin nightclub in the early hours of February 14th, 1981.

The five men and seven women jurors have been considering more than 90 days of evidence about the disaster for almost 40 hours.

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Dr Cullinane told them on Tuesday the verdicts they reach “is matter for you”.

She continued: “There is nothing automatic about your conclusions you reach ... Neither is there any verdict you must return. The verdict you return is the one you view to be most appropriately reflect the manner in which the deceased lost their lives.”

If they were satisfied there were failures by people, who were not identified or identifiable, that passed a specified legal threshold for unlawful killing “you may return a verdict of unlawful killing”.

She asked the jury to return to the court an hour earlier than usual on Wednesday to consider her answers. She would then invite the foreman to update her on progress reaching verdicts at 11am, she said.

Earlier on Tuesday the foreman told the court he and the 11 co-jurors were “very close” to reaching verdicts.

They must establish the identity of each as well as the date, place and cause of their deaths, and return verdicts based on the facts of the circumstances of the fire. The verdicts available to the jury are accidental death, misadventure, unlawful killing, open verdict or narrative verdict. They must also establish facts about the fire.

The inquests, which opened in April 2023 following a long campaign by the families, sat for 122 days and heard from 373 witnesses, including staff and management, patrons, members of the public who saw the fire, emergency services personnel and experts in fire and pathology.

When charging the jurors last month, the coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said they must be “dispassionate” and “clinical”, and “put emotions aside”, adding they were “under no time pressure” to reach their conclusions.

Explaining the verdicts, she spent time detailing the parameters within which the jurors must confine themselves if considering a verdict of unlawful killing.

“You have heard evidence in this case about how certain things were done and how they might have been done differently. Some of that evidence sought to set out a particular version of events,” she said.

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