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Grieving Cork parents don't regret decision to foster boy who killed their twin sons

By Ralph Riegel

Published 20/08/2015

Jonathan O’Driscoll with his brothers, twins Thomas (left) and Patrick
Jonathan O’Driscoll with his brothers, twins Thomas (left) and Patrick
Their mother Helen O’Driscoll outside court yesterday

The heartbroken parents who lost three sons to a murder-suicide revealed have said they love all three and have never regretted fostering their eldest boy, Jonathan (21), whose mental health problems were central to the tragedy.

But Thomas and Helen O'Driscoll issued an emotional appeal for greater support for mental health services to ensure no other family has to endure the horror they are going through.

Their emotional tribute came as a coroner's inquest heard that Jonathan (21) took his own life minutes after a frenzied knife attack on his "adored" twin brothers Thomas 'TomTom' and Patrick 'Paddy' O'Driscoll in the family home in Charleville, Co Cork on September 4 last year.

They suffered more than 40 stab wounds.

Jonathan had been fostered as a three-day-old baby and adopted by the couple at 15 years of age.

But he developed mental health problems including depression, paranoia and psychosis.

"May God give my three boys a bed in heaven, my three little angels," Helen sobbed.

"I would never turn back the pages - especially with Jonathan," Thomas said. "All of our family are our pride and our joy. I will never forget the three boys, Jonathan, Paddy and Tom Tom," he said.

Both said Jonathan deeply loved the twins and would regularly spend all his money on them.

Thomas and Helen have two younger sons, Jimmy (5) and Martin (3) and an older daughter, Bernadette (24).

"Jonathan and Bernadette guarded the twins with their lives. Jonathan loved the twins and he spent a lot of time with them and he spent a lot of money on them," Thomas said.

"He adored them and they adored him right back."

Helen pleaded for greater help for those with mental health problems. "They do need more resources. I would strongly look for that. At the end of the day, it is your child and my child that walks through that door looking for help," she said.

"I know that sometimes they may not show it, as we have seen here today with my young fella, but if they keep protesting (that something is wrong) they have to understand something is behind it.

"We got some answers today. At least now we now know exactly what happened. There is no need to blame anyone - but for the good God up there who wanted him (Jonathan).

"We will be broken-hearted this September. Every day is like a million years and I suppose it will be like that for the rest of our lives.

"We tried to help Jonathan. We did our level best to help him."

Helen stills recalls the anguish of her eldest son being bullied after the twins' birth in 2005.

"Jonathan was told by the bullies that he wouldn't be wanted any more and that we would give him back because we had the twins."

Despite Helen and Thomas reassuring Jonathan about being deeply loved, their eldest son became obsessed with details of his birth family. He also took the breakdown of a relationship with his girlfriend badly.

"This played on his mind," said Helen. "Kids played on his mind and he had it in his head that he couldn't have any children."

Her eldest son's mental health was subsequently rocked by a car accident in 2012 and the death, by suicide, of a close friend.

His parents only learned after his death that he had also been badly bullied - in one case being plied with alcohol before being hit over the head and knocked unconscious.

"Jonathan had a great life growing up - football, hurling, boxing etc. But he was quiet and spent a lot of time on PlayStation and the internet in more recent times."

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