Irish police are investigating if foul play was involved after a father and his two children were found dead from gas poisoning in their living room.
Investigators are now keeping an “open mind” on how Trevor Wallwork, his daughter Kim (12) and son Harry (9) died in what was described as a “tragic incident” in a remote cottage in Co Sligo.
Mr Wallwork (52) was found dead in his armchair by his stepdaughter Vicki Barnes late on Sunday night. The television and the lights on their Christmas tree were still on.
The family had visited their seriously ill stepmother in hospital just 24 hours before they were found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Mr Wallwork had been telling friends about fears for his sick wife in recent days.
Last night a senior Garda source said it was too early to say whether or not this was “an accident or a deliberate incident”.
“There are aspects to this which need further investigation and foul play has not been ruled out yet.”
Forensic officers spent the day examining the scene, and later removed a gas heater and a gas cylinder from the bungalow named ‘Forget Me Not Cottage'.
They also removed a number of empty tablet boxes.
Post-mortem tests carried out yesterday found the three had died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
However, toxicology reports will also be carried out on all three as part of the investigation to find out how the tragedy occurred.
Tests were due to be undertaken following last night's post-mortem examination.
Experts from the Irish fire brigade are due to visit the house today to examine an open fireplace to see if it was the cause of the carbon monoxide poisoning.
“Bubbly and bright” siblings Kim and Harry were found dead on the living room floor of the house, just outside the Co Sligo village of Gurteen.
Two family dogs were also dead in the room.
A neighbour told how stepdaughter Vicki ran into her home “in an awful state” after finding the bodies.
Vicki (22) had just been visiting her mother Susan at Sligo General Hospital and drove to the house when she couldn't get an answer to her stepdad's phone.
Last night the bodies of Mr Wallwork, Kim and Harry were taken to the same hospital for a post-mortem examination.
Local farmer Michael McKeown said that he had got to know the children Kim and Harry in the past couple of years.
The family had settled in the townland of Moygara six years ago after moving there from England.
“I'd pick them up on the lane to the house when they were walking home from school in the afternoons,” said Mr McKeown. “They were bright and bubbly; very intelligent and full of questions.”
The children had been pupils at Mullaghroe National School where shocked teachers were being comforted yesterday.
Deputy State Pathologist Michael Curtis visited the scene for an hour yesterday.
The Garda was in contact with relatives in Leeds and Staffordshire yesterday, with arrangements being made for some of them to come to Ireland tomorrow.