Gardaí search for motive in suspected Kerry murder-suicide

No motive identified by investigating officers who intend to call on nearby houses

 

Gardaí are investigating the motive behind a suspected murder-suicide that led to the deaths of three people from a family in north Kerry whose bodies were discovered on Tuesday.

Gardaí will conduct door-to-door inquiries and call to nearby houses in an attempt to ascertain what might have led to the deaths of all members of one family.

Outside the small Lixnaw Garda station, senior officer in the Listowel district Supt Paul Kennedy detailed how at 8.30pm on Tuesday night, officers in Listowel received a call from a member of the public, a neighbour, concerned for the family.

Gardaí responded immediately, but when they arrived at the house they found the body of a woman and a 24-year-old man inside. They also discovered the body of a man at a boundary to the rear of the house. All three had suffered gunshot wounds.

A firearm was also recovered from the rear of the premises. Supt Kennedy said gardaí are not looking for anyone else but are appealing for information “regardless how insignificant”.

He stressed that investigating gardaí are keeping an open mind “and examining everything” when asked about reports the man – in his 60s – had been selling his sheep in recent weeks. He was unaware of such a disposal, he said.

‘Well regarded’

Forensic examination is ongoing to determine time of death. Neighbours will also be asked if they heard gunshots. The family was characterised by locals as “well regarded . . . very well respected”, who had not come to Garda attention previously. There had not been any calls expressing concern.

The bodies were removed to University Hospital Kerry in Tralee for postmortem by State Pathologist Margot Bolster.

The three deceased have been named officially as: Eileen O’Sullivan, also known as Eily, aged 56; her partner Maurice (Mossie) O’Sullivan, aged 63; and the couple’s son, Jamie, aged 24.

The firearm had been legally held at the premises, but gardaí were not revealing what type of firearm. A family liaison officer has been appointed to deal with the families. There was no knowledge anyone had contacted gardaí in relation to the family in days preceding the deaths.

“These were a very decent well respected family who were not previously known to us and were well regarded in the community,” said Supt Kennedy.

Lixnaw parish priest Fr Anthony O’Sullivan said the same “numbness” he experienced on Tuesday night will be felt by the whole community.

Fr O’Sullivan attended the scene at the bungalow in Ballyreehan where the bodies of the woman and her son were found. The townland is midway between Lixnaw and Kilflynn villages, around half way between Tralee and Listowel.

“There is a feeling of numbness in myself. The community will be in the same frame of numbness. We are all in a sense of shock,” he said.

The younger man worked at Liebherr Container Cranes in Killarney for a period, as well as with agricultural contractors in north Kerry, while the older man had worked part time in farming and as a bus driver.

Kerry Sinn Féin TD Pa Daly said: “Everyone is in shock. No one can make sense of it.”

Local Fine Gael councillor Aoife Thornton said the village of Lixnaw “has been shaken with horror at what’s transpired over the last 12 hours”.

Acting Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys described the incident as “truly awful tragedy”.

She tweeted: “The shock and devastation being felt by the family and the community is unimaginable. An Garda Síochána is engaging with the local community and will carry out a full investigation.”