Belfast Telegraph

Mum distraught after husband kills their two kids and himself

A young mother was being comforted last night after her husband apparently took his own life after killing their two daughters.

Gardai fear the deaths of John Butler and his daughters Zoe (7) and Ella (2), outside the east Cork village of Ballycotton yesterday morning, involved a murder-suicide.

Officially, the deaths are being treated as suspicious. But sources said gardai were not looking for anyone else in their investigation.

The little girls' distraught mother, Una Butler (nee O'Riordan), was being supported by family and friends as she struggled to cope with the enormity of the triple tragedy.

The woman left the family home as normal at 8am yesterday to go to work in Cork city. She was contacted by gardai at 10am to say her husband had died in a single-vehicle accident and her two daughters had been found dead in the family bungalow.

Mr Butler, a construction worker, was discovered dead in a Toyota Yaris car, which crashed into a ditch on the Shanagarry-Ballycotton road.

Ballycotton locals said he was absolutely devoted to his wife and two daughters. The family had only recently celebrated a birthday party.

Mr Butler died when the car, having embedded itself in the ditch, erupted into flames. The fuel tank exploded on impact. It emerged that Mr Butler had called to a petrol station, bought fuel, and doused himself in it before driving off and crashing.

Gardai were called to the scene at 9.40am — and were shocked when, at 9.50am, they called to the Butler family home as part of their crash inquiry and discovered the bodies of the two little girls lying in a front room.

Both are believed to have died from strangulation or asphyxiation.

Post-mortem examinations on all three deceased began last night.

Ballycotton locals described the triple tragedy as “an unbelievable nightmare” for the community.

Belfast Telegraph

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