Murder and double suicide planned in advance, gardaí believe
Gardaí believe that a woman and her eldest son were deliberately lured back to an isolated Cork farm, for a murder-double suicide which had been carefully pre-planned by her husband and youngest son.
Anne O’Sullivan (60) saw her eldest son Mark (25) ambushed in his bedroom and shot by his father Tadg (59) and younger brother Diarmuid (23).
It happened at the family farm at Assolas outside Kanturk in north Cork on October 26.
Garda investigations have now led them to believe that Anne and Mark were deliberately lured back to the farmhouse for an attack which had been carefully premeditated over the previous days because of an escalating dispute over a €2m family will.
An examination of extensive documentation found at the farmhouse has supported this theory – with detectives awaiting the results of expert forensic tests and a ballistic examination of the firearms used, two .22 hunting rifles.
A shotgun recovered from the property had not been discharged.
Anne, a nurse and mother of two, has been battling ill health over recent times and travelled to Dublin for a medical procedure in mid-October.
She was accompanied by her eldest son.
Because of the dispute over the €2m will, the mother and son did not stay at the Assolas farmhouse on their return from Dublin.
They instead stayed with friends in the Kanturk area.
However, both decided to return to the farmhouse on October 25.
This decision was prompted by the receipt of a letter on behalf of Tadg O’Sullivan which held out the prospect of an amicable settlement being achieved within the family.
However, one neighbour was so concerned, they made contact with the mother and eldest son that evening to check that everything was alright.
That night Anne O’Sullivan was awoken by the sound of gunshots and ran to investigate.
Her youngest son had already left the house and her husband took her mobile phone from her and destroyed it in front of her.
He then confronted her about the disputed will.
She later ran almost a kilometre to raise the alarm.
Both Tadg and Diarmuid walked 600m to an area by a fairy ring known as ‘The Fort’ and took their own lives with the rifles.
Mrs O’Sullivan has been staying with relatives since the shocking events and sources say she has not returned to the family homestead.
Questions remain over who will take over the farm where she once lived.
“She has slowly begun to come to terms with what happened,” said one source.
“She has not set foot near the farm or the house since and has no intention of doing so.”
Diarmuid and Tadg were buried together in Castlemagner while a separate funeral was held for Mark in Kanturk. He was later buried in a plot belonging to his mother’s family.
The mourners were led by Mrs O’Sullivan, a highly respected nurse who comes from a family of landowners.
Mark’s best friend, Sharmilla Rahman, hailed the trainee solicitor in a funeral tribute as “the greatest son a mother could ever have”.
Her tribute was read out at Mark’s requiem mass by his cousin, Barry Sherlock.
“Mark and I were best friends... Mark was the greatest son a mother could have. I know the bond between them was unbreakable,” she wrote.
“Mark had such a big heart and so much love to give. I can’t imagine how much effort and love he put into being Anne’s son.”
Letters and notes have also been studied by detectives.
Tadg and Diarmuid deliberately did not target Anne – and left a detailed personal note, found by Diarmuid’s body, which was marked for her attention.
This note blamed the tragedy on the will - and further claimed that advice believed to have been given by locals about not splitting the farm was also a feature in the tragedy.
Bizarrely, it also instructed Anne O’Sullivan to care for the family pets.
A letter written by Mark and recovered from the farmhouse underlined his fears that the dispute over the farm threatened to split the family.
He also voiced his private concerns at how upset his father and younger brother were over the dispute and what potential consequences might arise.
It is believed the lengthy note found by Diarmuid’s body was written several hours before the triple shooting indicating that the attack was fully premeditated.
Elements of the note, which runs to a dozen pages, were described as “very upsetting” by one source and indicated Diarmuid may have been heavily influenced by his father.
The disagreement over the farm inheritance dates back almost eight months with legal correspondence about the feud discovered in the farmhouse.
The family row escalated when details emerged of a proposed will which was seen to favour Mark with the farm inheritance.
Diarmuid is understood to have felt effectively excluded. He was deeply upset over the proposed terms of the will.
Tadg was apparently very annoyed at the treatment of his younger son and the failure to reach a compromise over the inheritance.
While gardaí are treating the matter as a criminal investigation, they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.
A file will be prepared for the North Cork Coroner with an inquest to be staged next year.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article please contact Samaritans helpline 116 123 or Lifeline helpline on 0808 808 8000