A family in the Republic have been left inconsolable as they come to terms with the fatal stabbing of a nine-year-old boy by his older brother, who then hanged himself.
Shane Skeffington and his wife Carmel returned from a shopping trip to town to find a scene of horror in the house where they had left their eldest son Shane Junior on babysitting duty.
In an inexplicable act of violence, Shane (20) stabbed his younger brother Brandon with a knife, leaving him fatally wounded.
The troubled youngster then headed to the shed behind their house in rural Co Sligo, which his father had built seven years ago intending it to be a dream family home.
As the couple frantically alerted the emergency services at around 8pm on Sunday, it became clear that Shane jnr had killed his younger brother before taking his own life.
Their sister Sharon (15) had been relaxing in the house, unaware of the unfolding tragedy that claimed the lives of her brothers.
Emergency services rushed to the scene when the alarm was raised and Brandon was airlifted to Sligo Regional Hospital. But he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards. It is understood he was stabbed twice in the chest.
Gardai carried out a detailed search of the house and surrounding area and took possession of a knife, which was handed over to members of the technical bureau for forensic examination to determine if it was the murder weapon.
The heartbroken parents were at the hospital, where they were briefed by senior gardai, before a post mortem examination of the bodies of their sons was carried out by the Deputy State pathologist, Dr Michael Curtis yesterday evening.
Gardai said they were not seeking anyone else in connection with their inquiries.
Shane Junior had been troubled in recent months and was due in court this week to face a charge of cocaine possession.
He had been known to the gardai following minor offences in the past. However, he had no criminal convictions.
Last April he was fined after he was caught with a smoked cannabis joint. Three months earlier, he had been given the Probation Act after he was found with €40 worth of the drug.
In March he was among a group of men who had been charged with violent disorder.
The full details of the tragedy were still emerging last night.