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The victims of the Stardust fire Sasko Lazarov/

Jurors at Stardust inquest retire for weekend having spent eight days deliberating so far

A total of 48 people died in the fire at the nightclub on 14 February 1981.

JURORS AT THE Stardust inquest have retired for the weekend having so far spent eight days considering their verdicts on the causes of death of the 48 victims of the fire.

The panel of seven women and five men have spent more than 30 hours deliberating since their considerations began on 3 April.

This morning, Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane gave further legal guidance to the jury following questions posed by the panel the previous day concerning the general questionnaire they were provided with at the beginning of their deliberations.

The jurors had requested advice from Dr Cullinane as to whether a particular answer they give on this questionnaire would imply a failure on the part of someone, notwithstanding the fact that they are aware that they cannot attach blame to any individual.

Responding to their query today, the coroner said that in answering the questions on the general questionnaire the jury are “establishing facts”.

She said answering yes to certain questions “does not imply that you consider each factor to represent a failure”.

“It’s a separate matter for you when considering your verdict to decide if that factor represented a failure by the standards of 1981 and then to apply the two stage test contained within the legal instructions to you, provided that no person or persons is identified or identifiable by your findings and verdict,” Dr Cullinane explained.

She told the jury they are not required to answer yes to every question in the general questionnaire before they can consider that two stage test.

“What is required is that any finding or findings you may make that you consider to be a failure or failures, that those failures must be sufficient to meet the test for the unlawful killing verdict,” she said. 

In her legal guidance to the jurors before their deliberations began, Dr Cullinane said that there is a very specific test that must be applied before the jury can return a verdict of unlawful killing. 

“You must find that there has been a failure by a person or persons to a very high degree to observe such a course of action as experience shows to be necessary if substantial injury to others is to be avoided, and that such failure was a substantial cause of the death,” she said.

Unlike the other verdicts, Dr Cullinane said that a verdict of unlawful killing could only be returned if the jury were satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt. 

The other verdicts that can be returned by the jury are accidental death, death by misadventure, an open verdict and a narrative verdict. The standard of proof for these verdicts is the balance of probabilities. 

After continuing their deliberations throughout the day, the panel of seven women and five men returned to the Pillar Room at the Rotunda Hospital at 4pm this afternoon where Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane discharged them for the weekend.

She reminded the jurors not to discuss the matter with anyone outside of their number.

The jury will return next Monday where deliberations will enter a third week.