A FULL Garda investigation has been launched into the circumstances which led to a Covid-19 patient, who later died, refusing treatment and discharging himself from hospital.
Joe McCarron, 67, was taken from Letterkenny University Hospital earlier this month after being encouraged to leave by Covid deniers who claimed he would 'die' if he stayed in hospital.
A video of the incident, shared widely across Ireland and beyond, showed a visibly ill Mr McCarron, who was struggling to breathe, be encouraged by a man to leave the hospital and go home.
A doctor at the hospital told Mr McCarron that the man trying to convince him to leave the hospital was putting his life at risk, and said if he left the hospital to go home he would die.
The unidentified doctor told him "I don't think what he is saying is right at all. You are barely able to breathe there now. We want you to stay to help you."
The man recording the incident, who was trying to convince the ill man to leave with him, said it would be better to die at home than in the hospital.
He claimed he was "rescuing" him, and told Mr McCarron "If you stay here they are going to f***ing kill you."
Eventually Mr McCarron, who had fallen prey to conspiracy theories online, did decide to leave, but within days was rushed back to hospital and placed on a ventilator in a critical condition.
Sadly, despite returning to hospital Mr McCarron became gravely ill, and died from Covid-19 on Friday.
His family condemned the Covid deniers who encouraged the ill man to leave, with his wife, Una, apologising to staff at the hospital for "the actions of Joe's so-called reckless friends".
He was laid to rest in his hometown of Dungloe yesterday afternoon, with local priest Fr Gallagher calling on the congregation to "remember Joe and to honour his memory".
According to RTÉ News, An Garda Síochána are now investigating to see if there was any crime committed during the removal of Mr McCarron from the hospital, such as intimidation, trespass or endangerment.
A source told the outlet that a file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions who will decide whether criminal charges and a trial will commence.
Should a charge of endangerment be found, anyone charged with the offence could face a maximum of 12 months in prison in the District Court or up to seven years in the Circuit Court.