‘Inaccurate picture’ painted of dead teenager

  • Attending inquest: John and Lisa Dombroski outside court (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Evidence in an inquest into the death of a 19-year-old American rugby player painted an “inaccurate picture”, the teenager’s mother claimed yesterday.

Lisa Dombroski, the mother of Mark Dombroski, who died after a fall in March, said that “certain aspects of the investigation were not given the attention warranted” while other aspects were “heavily emphasised”.

She said: “Mark’s physical condition was never presented yesterday.”

She was speaking during the second day of a coroner’s inquest into the death of the Philadelphia university student.

Mr Dombroski’s body was found in the dry moat at Fort Prospect, near police headquarters, on March 19.

He went missing a day and a half earlier when he left a Hamilton bar alone after a night out with friends.

Mr Dombroski was in Bermuda with a team from St Joseph’s University to play in the Ariel Re Bermuda International Sevens tournament.

Mrs Dombroski said that she and her husband, John, had come with their son on the trip and that “nothing seemed amiss with his attitude”.

She said that her son had been “quite banged up” after he played in multiple games on March 16 and 17 and that he had suffered an injury to his left shoulder.

Mrs Dombroski said she believed that her son’s mood had shifted while at Front Street bar the Dog House with team-mates.

She explained: “He was tired, sore and in a less celebratory mood.

“We believe that he wanted to get back to the barracks where they were staying.”

Jack Heffernan, a team-mate and friend of Mr Dombroski, told investigators in a taped interview that his team-mate had been in a bad mood because of problems with his girlfriend.

But Mrs Dombroski said that all relationships go through “ups and downs”.

She added that after she read messages between her son and his girlfriend that the “outcome seemed good”.

She said that she believed her son had left the Dog House on his own “with the intention of walking back” to Warwick Camp, where the team was staying.

CCTV footage shown at the inquest on Monday showed Mr Dombrowski’s movements from the time he arrived at the Dog House.

He was later captured on several CCTV cameras as he walked along Front Street in the direction of East Broadway.

In a number of the video clips his hand was raised to his head as if he was speaking on a phone.

Mrs Dombroski said that the family presumed he was “listening to walking directions from a search engine”.

But testimony given earlier yesterday said that no map searches had been performed on Mr Dombroski’s mobile phone.

Loryn Bell, an intelligence analyst who examined Mr Dombroski’s phone, said that data roaming had been turned off.

Ms Bell added the phone was used to call George Harris, a team-mate of Mr Dombroski, at about 12.15am on March 18.

She said that the call was not answered and that no further calls were made or received.

Ms Bell added there was no significant damage to the phone and that its protective case had “small, hairline cracks”.

Detective Constable Steve Palmer, of the police Forensic Support Unit, said that he had photographed the scene where Mr Dombroski’s body was found.

Mr Palmer said that swabs were taken from Mr Dombroski’s palms and his mobile phone and that photographs were also taken of the backyards of homes on Alexandra Road that bordered the dry moat.

Mr Palmer told the inquest that he fingerprinted and swabbed a four-foot section of the top rail of a fence above where Mr Dombroski’s body was found.

He estimated that the fence was about six to seven feet high.

John Dombroski Jr, Mr Dombroski’s older brother, asked Mr Palmer if there was any evidence that his brother had climbed the fence.

Mr Palmer said that there was “no DNA or fingerprint evidence to support that” and that no footprints were found.

But Mr Palmer added that it had rained that night and that “environmental factors matter” when evidence was collected.

He said that none of the swabs taken as part of the investigation were sent away for processing.

Mr Palmer added: “That decision is made by the senior investigating officer.”

He said that there were areas of broken branches “along the whole stretch” of the fence above the moat.

Acting Inspector Alexander Rollin, a member of the Armed Response Unit, said that he had led the search team that found Mr Dombroski’s body.

He added the group included members of Mr Dombroski’s family.

Mr Rollin said that Mr Dombroski’s body was found about 13 to 16 feet away from the wall of the dry moat.

He told the inquest that Mr Dombroski was found on his back with his shirt slightly pulled up.

He said Mr Dombroski’s hands were clenched and he had dried blood around his mouth and nose.

John Dombroski Jr asked Mr Rollin if he was aware of any gang members in the Alexandra Road area.

But coroner Maxanne Anderson ruled that the question was “not at all relevant” to the inquest.

The inquest also heard that alcohol and cannabis were found in Mr Dombroski’s urine.

Christopher Milroy, a Canadian forensic pathologist, said in March that a post-mortem examination he carried out had found no evidence of foul play in Mr Dombroski’s death.

Dr Milroy added that his exam concluded that Mr Dombroski died from a fall.

Ms Anderson said she would deliver a written verdict at a later date.

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