Parents discover mortally wounded son (9) inside home

Shane Skeffington believed to have stabbed brother before taking his own life


Gardaí investigating the deaths of two brothers in Co Sligo have revealed that they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the double tragedy.

The bodies of nine-year-old Brandon Skeffington and his older brother Shane (20) were discovered by their parents when they returned to the family home outside the village of Banada, near Tubbercurry on Sunday evening. Shane and Carmel Skeffington found their nine-year-old mortally wounded inside the house. Later they found the body of the 20-year-old in a shed at the back of the house.

Postmortems were carried out by Dr Michael Curtis at Sligo Regional Hospital yesterday but gardaí investigating the deaths believe that Brandon was stabbed by his older brother, who then took his own life. A number of knives, including that believed to have been used in the fatal stabbing, have been taken from the property for a forensic examination.

Shane Skeffington was scheduled to appear before the courts tomorrow in relation to the discovery of a small amount of cocaine, believed to be for personal use. However, the results of toxicology tests will be needed to determine if any substances had been consumed by him immediately before he and his brother died.

Local parish priest Fr John Glynn said it was the worst thing that could happen any family, echoing the sentiments of many local people who struggled to explain the awful events to their own children. Fr Glynn said people were struggling, “not even for words at this stage,but to try and make sense of this”.

He knew Brandon, who was in third class in the local primary school and was described by neighbours as a happy little boy. “He was very lively,” said Fr Glynn. “I know his parents through the school as well. This is a very hard one but we have a good community and we will rally around them.”

The focus of the investigation is the large two-storey house outside Banada which Shane Skeffington snr built for his family on a quiet rural road. Yesterday it was sealed off as the Garda technical team carried out its investigation.

Some local people said they got their first inkling that something was wrong when they heard the sound of a helicopter in the area on Sunday evening. Brandon was removed from the scene by air ambulance and taken to Sligo Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

The family were from Tubbercurry but moved to this rural setting about eight years ago. Local Fianna Fáil councillor Jerry Lundy said people were devastated for the Skeffingtons. “I feel desperately sorry for the family, especially the mother and father who are very well known and very well liked,” Mr Lundy said. He said that Shane Skeffington snr was a hard-working block-layer who was very respected in the building trade.

Brendan Leonard, chairman of Tourlestrane football club, expressed sympathy to the parents and their two surviving children, a 15-year-old girl and a three-year-old boy. He said people were devastated for the couple. “They are hard workers and very well liked.”

Banada is a quiet rural townland, best known as the location of Banada Abbey and convent. “We were all shocked this morning as we went to work and hard about this,” local man John Colleran said. “It is very sad for the family.” Another local man Jerry Meehan said locals were very shocked. “We are not used to such tragedy.”

Research published last year found that in the previous 12 years 46 people lost their lives due to the phenomenon of murder-suicide. The research was carried out by Ciara Byrne, a forensics student at IT Sligo. Her study of records from the State Pathologist’s office found there were 19 incidents in that time and that more than half of the 27 “innocent victims” were children.

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