Belfast Telegraph

Stab death man had been in hospital

A physiotherapist who died along with his wife in a suspected murder-suicide stabbing had recently been released from Ireland's main mental health hospital.

Michael Greaney, 51, and his wife Valerie, 49, were found dead at their house at O'Neill Place in Cobh yesterday afternoon.

Gardai investigating the deaths and a knife attack on one of their daughters, Michelle, aged 21, in Co Cork have said they are not looking for anyone else.

It is understood the mother was discovered in the hallway of the home with a stab wound to her chest and died shortly after being discovered.

A HSE spokeswoman said: "The HSE cannot comment on an individual's case.

"Individuals who are committed to the Central Mental Hospital under section 5(2) of the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act receive treatment and care. Under the Act, the court has the authority to release an individual and not detain them."

Mr Greaney was believed to have been released from the Central Mental Hospital in Dublin earlier this autumn and returned to the family home in Cobh.

The HSE spokeswoman said the organisation extended its deepest sympathy to family and friends of the deceased.

"The HSE will liaise with the family and community in relation to this incident and any supports required will be made available to provide assistance at this difficult time."

Mr Greaney was a physiotherapist with a long-running practice in Cobh.

He was also a minister of the Eucharist at St Colman's Cathedral and had served communion at Christmas Day morning mass.

Bishop of Cloyne William Crean said he was deeply shocked.

"I ask the faithful of the diocese to pray for all of those affected by these sad events. May the light of Christ, whose coming into the world we celebrate at Christmas, help to guide us through this great darkness which has fallen on the community of Cobh, and on the diocese as a whole."

Mr Greaney, a well-known businessman who also worked as the gardener in the Bishop of Cloyne's palace in the town, was found in an upstairs bedroom with wounds believed to have been self-inflicted.

Gardai said one of the couple's daughters also suffered a stab wound to the chest.

She was found being treated by a neighbour on the street outside the family home on O'Neill's Place opposite the local cemetery when emergency services arrived on the scene.

Her 16-year-old sister is understood to have raised the alarm when she got to the house at about 3.30pm in the afternoon.

The older sister was treated on the street outside and rushed to Cork University Hospital for emergency surgery to injuries initially said to be life-threatening.

The Greaneys are a well-known family in Cobh and the husband and wife had run a physiotherapy clinic in the town since the late 1990s.

Mr Greaney was a keen rower in his youth and won three All-Ireland medals competing in coastal races.

It is understood he had been receiving medical care in the last year following an incident in the family home but had remained working in the business.

The incident is believed to have occurred in the home some time around 3pm in the afternoon.

The scene was sealed off pending a full Garda technical examination and the office of the State Pathologist was also notified.

Detectives appealed for witnesses to any disturbance at the house to contact Cobh Garda station, the Garda confidential line or any other Garda station.

If the suspicion of murder-suicide is confirmed in this case, it will be the latest in a series of similar incidents in Ireland over the last year.

In September, twin boys Thomas and Patrick O'Driscoll, aged nine, were found dead in their home on the edge of Charleville, north Cork, following a murder-suicide involving an older sibling.

Within an hour of the discovery their older sibling Jonathan, in his early 20s, was found dead about 15km away in a wooded area by a river just outside the town of Buttevant.

Elsewhere, two brothers died at their home in rural Sligo in late July - nine-year-old Brandon Skeffington was found with stab wounds in the family home at Banada, Tourlestrane near Tubbercurry, before the body of his elder brother Shane junior, 21, was found in a shed beside the property.

At the time it was the first murder-suicide to occur in Ireland for more than a year.

A study examining 19 similar incidents of murder-suicide over a 13-year period from January 2001 to the end of June last year found that on average one murder-suicide incident happens per year and 46 people died in the period under review.

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