The Minister for Justice has announced a statutory inquiry into the death of a 14-year-old boy who slipped into a coma while in garda custody in Clonmel three years ago.

Michael McDowell has also apologised to the parents of Brian Rossiter for the way the case was handled by the Department of Justice.

Brian Rossiter had been arrested on suspicion of public order offences in Clonmel on the 10 September 2002, and was held overnight with the consent of his father.

The next morning he was found to be in a coma and was transferred to hospital, but died two days later.

Brian’s father Pat Rossiter has welcomed the Minister’s announcement but said he has serious reservations as to the scope of the inquiry.

Speaking to RTE News in Clonmel this evening, Mr Rossiter said he is unsure if the truth will come out in relation to the death of his son.

Michael McDowell said the inquiry by Hugh Hartnett SC would look into whether there was any maltreatment of Brian Rossiter, or any circumstance which gives rise to cause for concern in relation to how members of An Garda Síochána handled his arrest and detention.

He added that this inquiry would not cut across legal proceedings relating to the incident in which Brian Rossiter received a black eye, two days before his arrest.

Mr McDowell conceded that correspondence from the Rossiter family was inadequately dealt with by his Department, and that the delay in dealing with it was 'indefensible'.