Man who killed brother was released from care after six days

Jury at inquest into deaths of 20-year-old and 9-year-old urges education about mental health

The jury returned a unanimous verdict of unlawful killing in the case of Brandon Skeffington and a majority verdict of suicide “as a result of unsound mind” in the case of his brother Shane Michael. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The jury returned a unanimous verdict of unlawful killing in the case of Brandon Skeffington and a majority verdict of suicide “as a result of unsound mind” in the case of his brother Shane Michael. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

An inquest into the deaths of two brothers who died following an incident at their family home has heard one had been admitted to a psychiatric facility two months earlier but was allowed home after six days.

The jury returned a unanimous verdict of unlawful killing in the case of Brandon Skeffington (9) from Banada, Tourlestrane, Co Sligo. They returned a majority verdict of suicide “as a result of unsound mind” in the case of his brother Shane Michael (20).

The jury recommended that civil society should redouble its efforts to make sure young adults and children are educated about mental health “and are encouraged to discuss their problems and fears ”.

Three stab wounds

Michael Curtis

The brothers were found by their parents at their home after they returned from a shopping trip on July 20th, 2014. Shane and Carmel Skeffington gave evidence of finding Brandon lying on an upstairs landing with his T-shirt soaked in blood.

The boys’ sister Sharon who, was 15 at the time, recalled in a statement that while her parents were away she was in her bedroom listening to music and texting friends. At one stage she heard her brothers talking and playing ball together in the utility room beside her room. Then they went quiet and she assumed they had gone upstairs. At one stage Shane Michael had knocked on her door and called her name but her door was locked and when she asked “What?” he said: “Ah, nothing. Just checking.”

Carmel Skeffington told coroner Eamon MacGowan that Shane Michael had been admitted to St Columba’s hospital in Sligo on May 14th following a psychotic episode when he had kicked his father. She said the incident was out of character.

Cannabis

The coroner heard the 20- year-old was put in seclusion in St Columba’s after he became agitated and aggressive. After a week they got a call and were told they could visit. Dr Donagh O’Neill asked them did they want to bring Shane Michael home. “We were shocked but happy he was coming home.”

He was to continue to take his medication, the drug Olanzapine, but she knew that as he had refused to take it in hospital he would not take it at home.

Dr O’Neill told Ciarán Tansey, solicitor for the Skeffington family, that Shane Michael had suffered cannabis-induced psychotic symptoms and he would expect these to resolve as long as he stopped using cannabis – even if he was not taking the medication. He told the coroner he had been “surprised and shocked and also very saddened” by what had happened.

Mrs Skeffington told the jury the family had got no written instruction on how to manage his care when he was discharged.