Mother-of-two Ciara Dunne suffered concussion and a black eye before being strangled with a man’s tie by her husband, an inquest was told yesterday.
The couple’s two daughters, Lean (5) and Shania (3), may have been dead for “several hours” before Adrian Dunne (29) hanged himself, deputy state pathologist Dr Michael Curtis said.
Dunne was found hanging in the hallway of their home in Monageer, Co Wexford.
Coroner Dr Sean Nixon told yesterday’s inquest hearing in Enniscorthy that Adrian and Ciara Dunne (26) both loved their children but may have thought they were taking them to a better place, “maybe to heaven,” when the family died over the weekend of April 20 to 22 2007.
The inquest ruled Ciara Dunne and her daughters Shania and Lean were unlawfully killed, while Adrian died by suicide. He was found hanging in the hall of their home in Monageer, while Ciara was strangled with a man’s tie and the girls were smothered.
Ciara may have been concussed at the time of strangulation, the inquest was told by deputy state pathologist Dr Michael Curtis, as she had some injuries consistent with mild blunt force trauma.
The two girls may have died several hours before Adrian hanged himself, as the post-mortem examinations showed that their bodies had been moved several hours after they died. Both girls died of suffocation.
There was no sign of a struggle by Ciara when the neck tie ligature was placed around her neck and she was strangled.
Yesterday’s inquest was told that the family had visited the public health nurse on Friday April 20 and told her about their plans to move to Liverpool. They also visited a funeral director’s to make plans for a joint funeral, prompting the funeral director to contact a detective garda, who asked a priest to visit the Dunnes.
Fr Richard Redmond spoke with them on the Friday night and had his concerns “somewhat alleviated,” he told the inquest.
Further attempts to contact the family over the weekend were fruitless and the bodies were found on Monday, April 23.
Coroner Dr Sean Nixon said that Adrian and Ciara “seemed to be in agreement” when they were making their plans.
After the verdicts were returned, Dr Nixon said all the answers would never be known.