A statutory inquiry into the death of a 14-year-old boy who slipped into a coma while in garda custody in Co Tipperary three years ago has opened in Dublin.

Brian Rossiter had been arrested on suspicion of public order offences in Clonmel in 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.

Speaking on his way into the inquiry, the Rossiter family’s solicitor, Cian O’Carroll, said that the inquiry did not represent the end but part of the process of establishing the truth about what happened to Brian.

He said he and the Rossiter family have decided to co-operate with and work within the scope of the inquiry in order to help the inquiry chairman, Senior Counsel Hugh Hartnett, come to a decision on the case.

Mr O'Carroll said he believed the terms of reference would still not allow the inquiry to get at the key issue, which he said was whether Brian died from injuries inflicted in a garda station and if so who inflicted those injuries.

Brian's father, Pat, said he felt a bit anxious and a bit apprehensive about the start of the inquiry but he hoped for the best.

Mr Rossiter said he hoped to get the truth and nothing less but he said he did not think all the necessary questions could be anwered by the inquiry as the terms of reference were still too narrow.

But he said it was worth the family taking part in order to see where it goes.

Brian's mother Siobhan and his sister are also attending the inquiry at Distillery Buildings in central Dublin.

The inquiry was established by the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, last June. The hearings in private session are expected to hear from 120 witnesses. The inquiry is expected to last for three months.