Mental health issues ‘rampant’, children of murder-suicide couple say

Marie Quigley suffered ‘blunt force trauma’ in bed and husband James died in crash, Coroner’s Court hears

The house in  Co Louth, where Marie Quigley was found dead. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

The house in Co Louth, where Marie Quigley was found dead. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

 

The children of James and Marie Quigley, who died in a murder suicide, have said Ireland is “rampant” with mental health issues which “should not be ignored.”

In a statement issued after the inquests into their parents’ deaths, which were held Thursday, they said they live with “this tragedy every minute of every day.”

Marie Quigley was found dead in her bedroom. Her 69-year-old husband, who had a history of mental health issues, died after driving his car the wrong way up the M1 motorway into the path of an articulated lorry.

It is believed he murdered his wife before taking his own life.

Kieran Quigley told Dundalk Coroner’s Court he had a bad feeling when his father did not turn up to meet him in Dundalk on the July 27th, 2015.

He rang his mother and father’s phones but no one answered so he went to the family home at Newtownbalregan outside Dundalk. He told gardaí he thought his father may have had a heart attack.

When he arrived at the house he saw the blinds were down in his parents’ bedrooms. The back door was locked so he opened the front door and went upstairs.

His father’s bedroom was empty but his mother’s door was locked. He was ringing her phone and could hear it ringing out.

He rang 999 and family members. His uncle and cousin arrived and they tried to open the door. When they got it open, he said he could see a blanket over somebody and there was blood all over the place. He said it was “the most devastating moment in my life”.

Garda Superintendent Brian Mohan, then an inspector based in Dundalk, said Mrs Quigley’s partially covered body was lying across the bed.

The doctor on call pronounced her dead at the scene.

State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy, who carried out a postmortem on Mrs Quigley, said she had been the victim of a violent attack while in bed. She had suffered blunt force trauma to the head with an object such as a hammer and had been struck in excess of a dozen times. She had also been stabbed several times.

She concluded death was due to instrumental blunt force trauma to the head and obstruction of the airways because of a gag. She said death would have been rapid.

Dr Cassidy said her postmortem concluded James Quigley’s death, which was instantaneous, was due to crush injuries as a result of the collision on the motorway.

The jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing for Mrs Quigley. An open verdict was returned for her husband.

In a statement issued through their solicitor, Kieran, Sonya, Mark and Gavin Quigley said, “the sense of losing both parents is overwhelming and we are living with this tragedy every minute of every day.

“We lived with our father’s mental illness all our lives. In recent years our father had some major physical problems and coupled with the enormous medication along with his mental health problems, we now know he was beyond helping.

“Mental health is a form of disease which is sometimes not visibly noticeable and which this country is rampant with, but it should not be ignored.”

Anyone affected by suicide can contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or Aware on 1800 804848 or the ISPCC Childline on 1800 666666.