Belfast Telegraph

Twin boys 'murdered' in Cork: Suspected murder suicide shocks small community

By Tom Brady, Majella O'Sullivan and Louise Kelly

Twin boys were murdered by an older brother, who then drove 15km from the family’s bungalow and killed himself, it's understood.

A small community outside of Charleville in north Cork was left reeling last night after the deaths of the young boys.

The horrific attacks may have been witnessed by their young siblings, aged three and five. The twins’ bodies were discovered in separate bedrooms.

Local priest Father Tom Naughton of the Holy Cross Parish said that he is finding it hard to come to terms with the tragedy.

“I find it very hard to get used to it myself as a priest,” he told RTE Radio 1 this morning.

He said that the children in the school were the twins attended will be offering counselling after the incident.

“They will be made aware that they have a family that loves them close to them. Unfortunately in life you don’t always understand the depth of the human mind. But kids can grasp things a lot more than we actually give them credit for,” he said.

But he said that it will take “time more than anything else to bring some sort of healing” after what has occurred.

Gardai were alerted to the incident after a child ran to a neighbour’s house, screaming: “Jon has killed my brothers.”

A manhunt for their older brother Jonathan, who was seen leaving the house in a car, was launched.

About an hour later a group of children walking along the banks of a river in Buttevant found the vehicle and the body of the 21-year-old lying nearby. Foul play was ruled out.

The Irish Independent understands that the older brother had been minding the twin boys while their parents were away on a trip to Kilmallock, Co Limerick.

Both boys sustained multiple stab wounds. Sources said that they suffered a "horrific death".

A three-year-old and five-year-old were in the house as the tragedy unfolded and it is feared they may have witnessed the attack.

The boys' heartbroken parents, Thomas and Ellen, were informed about the tragedy by telephone. The couple have three other children who are adopted. They were being comforted by relatives last night. Family members were visibly upset.

An relation of the boys, who did not wished to be named, told the Irish Independent that the entire family was shocked by the tragedy.

There are five houses close together near the O'Driscoll home in Deerpark and last night the close-knit community was finding it hard to come to terms with the horror that unfolded.

A close relative of the family said the entire community had been devastated. "It's the saddest thing I ever saw in my life," he said.

"Jon must have been in a bad way himself and needed help himself."

The family are well-respected in the area and Ellen was described as a great mother who did her best to provide for her family. When they first got married, Thomas and Ellen lived in a caravan in the area but had worked hard to get a bungalow.

A HSE Air Corps air ambulance, based at Costume Barracks, Athlone, was dispatched to the house to fly the boys to hospital; however it was quickly stood down when it became clear the twins were dead at the scene.

Ambulance crews from Mallow were met by a bloody scene.

They will be offered counselling as a matter of protocol.

The area around the house, near O'Rourke's Cross on the main N20 Limerick Cork road, remained sealed off last night, as did the scene in Buttevant where Jonathan O'Driscoll's body was found.

Forensic experts from the technical bureau at the Garda headquarters in the Phoenix Park are expected to carry out a full examination of the house today.

The communities of Charleville and Buttevant were shocked by the triple tragedy and residents gathered in small groups on the streets as details of the deaths began to emerge.

The staff and pupils of Banogue National School, Croom, Co Limerick have said that they are deeply shocked and saddened by the sudden and untimely deaths of two young brothers in the school. 

Twin boys Thomas and Patrick O’Driscoll were stabbed to death by an older brother who then drove 15km from the family bungalow and killed himself.

They were in third class in the school and were nine years of age.

“This is a terrible tragedy for the family, the school and the whole community.  We are deeply saddened by this event,” said principal teacher Sheila Cagney.

“Our sympathy and thoughts are with the family and friends at this terrible time.”

Ms.Cagney described both boys as loving, energetic and full of fun.  The boys had been pupils in the school for just over a year.

She said the focus of the staff at this time was on the pupils in the school who are trying to come to terms with the loss of young friends.

“We will help the children to the best of our ability,” said Ms. Cagney.

“We are receiving support from the National Education Psychological Service who will be at the school today to support staff on dealing with the tragedy.”

In Lee’s Centra, morning shoppers spoke of little else.

One woman, who did not wish to be named, said she knew Mrs O’Driscoll well, describing her as a “lovely woman who would do anything for her family”.

“She adored those kids. All of them. They used to constantly be in here and it was all about the kids. She did whatever she could for them,” she said.

She described “Paddy” and “Tom Tom” as two lovely little boys who had only been playing on the estate where she lived yesterday while visiting their aunt after school.

On such a warm, glorious day, the children were playing outside without a care in the world.

“To look at Jonathan you wouldn’t think he was adopted. He was just another one of them and she treated him the same,” she added.

She said Jonathan was constantly playing with his little brothers and earlier this  week had been spotted in Lidl buying sweets for them.

Deputy state pathologist Dr Michael Curtis was due to arrive at the scene late last night and a post-mortem examination will be carried out on the brothers today.

Gardai in Charleville are appealing for witnesses or anyone with information to contact them on 022 31450, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any garda station.

Superintendent Pat McCarthy from Charleville is leading the investigation into the discovery of the three bodies.

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