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Blind dad kills wife and two children

Gardai believe he murdered his family before hanging himself in hallway of their home

By Tom Brady, Sarah Murphy and Edel Kennedy

Urgent inquiries began today to see if the tragic deaths of a family of four in their home could have been averted.

Senior Garda officers believe Adrian Dunne killed his Co Donegal-born wife, Ciara, and two young daughters Shania (3) and Leanne (5) and then hanged himself in the hallway of their home in the village of Monageer, outside Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.

The bodies were discovered yesterday. Post mortem examinations are to be carried out later.

The couple were in their 20s. Mrs Dunne was originally from Burt in Co Donegal.

Gardai broke into the house yesterday and found the bodies of the two girls and Mrs Dunne in the sitting room.

The body of Mr Dunne, who was blind, was found in the hallway.

But today questions were being asked about the response of the gardai and the Health Service Executive (HSE) after it emerged that the alarm had been raised on Friday.

Fears for the safety of the family were expressed on Friday after an undertaker in New Ross alerted a local detective and said Mr Dunne had been asking questions about making funeral arrangements for his family.

The detective contacted local priest, Fr Richard Redmond, who called at the family's bungalow home in Moin Ruain estate and spent two hours with them.

He said last night he left the house with concerns and decided on Saturday to ask parish priest Fr William Cosgrave to visit the family that morning. Fr Cosgrave called on Saturday morning but failed to gain access and noted the blinds were drawn.

The detective reported the incident with the undertaker to his superintendent, Peter Finn, on Saturday and gardai then contacted the childcare manager in Wexford community services.

However, there were no further visits to the Dunne home until lunchtime yesterday when Fr Cosgrave again knocked at the front door and noticed the curtails still drawn and milk cartons piling up outside.

He contacted the gardai who eventually forced entry through the back door and found Mrs Dunne and the two girls lying on the living room floor.

Both children appeared to have been suffocated.

The gardai and the HSE were last night involved in a "blame game" about the apparently slow response to the alarm signals.

Garda press officer Superintendent Kevin Donohoe said his force was not going to be the scapegoat.

The HSE said it had reminded the Garda of section 12 of the Childcare Act 1991, which allowed gardai to remove a child to a place of safety, which in Wexford would be Wexford General Hospital.

It has emerged that Mr Dunne's last contact was a telephone conversation with his brother at 6.30pm on Saturday.

It is not yet clear if he had already killed his wife, Ciara, and their children.

It is expected that a senior Garda officer from outside the Wexford division will be appointed to carry out an investigation into the circumstances of the Garda response, while the HSE will also examine its role.

A number of crucial questions remain unanswered:

l Why did the gardai not call to the house on Saturday or Sunday?

l Should the initial action on Friday evening have been left to the local priest?

l Could the HSE have been involved at an earlier stage?

Adrian's brother, Sebastian, said his brother loved his children too much to harm them and said questions had to be asked how "a blind guy" could harm three people.

Husband and wife were both visually impaired. They first met in 2001, a year after Adrian went completely blind. He continued to work in discos and nightclubs around the country.

Belfast Telegraph


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