Man held over killing of couple in Donegal

Jimmy and Kathleen Cuddihy, in their 70s, believed murdered by man they knew

 Kathleen and James Cuddihy, who were found dead   at their home in Carndonagh, Co   Donegal,  yesterday. Photograph:  Derry Journal

Kathleen and James Cuddihy, who were found dead at their home in Carndonagh, Co Donegal, yesterday. Photograph: Derry Journal

 

A man being questioned about the murders of a couple in their 70s in their Donegal home had been medically assessed recently after concerns were expressed about his mental health.

The suspect was detained by gardaí in Donegal yesterday morning shortly after the bodies of Jimmy and Kathleen Cuddihy were found at their family home in Carndonagh.

The discovery was made at about 9am by the murdered couple’s son James and a local builder, who had been carrying out work at the property.

Garda sources believe the retired couple were attacked by one man armed with an axe and said the injuries to both victims were very extensive.

The motive for the attack was not clear but there was no sign of forced entry at the house and burglary has been ruled out.

An axe recovered by gardaí is believed to be the murder weapon.

Mr Cuddihy was a retired maths teacher and, while from Kilkenny, had settled in Donegal with his wife, a retired nurse, who was from the Carndonagh area.

The couple had four grown-up children, two sons and two daughters – James, Julian, Delia and Maureen.

Local resident

The man being questioned last night is from the locality. Gardaí are trying to establish if his state of mind had deteriorated and influenced his alleged actions.

 

The suspect was detained under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act at Meendoran near Clonmany, an area of Donegal within a few minutes’ drive of the crime scene.

He was taken to nearby Buncrana Garda station for questioning.

He can be held for up to 24 hours without charge. His detention was due to be suspended for eight hours late last night to allow him sleep in a cell at the station, meaning he was due to be released or charged by about 5pm today.

However, the Garda team running the investigation was liaising with the office of the Director of Public Prosecution last night in an effort to determine if the evidence gathered so far was sufficient to bring criminal charges.

 

Charges anticipated

Garda sources said the man was the only suspect in the case and charges were anticipated.

 

When the alarm was raised, local gardaí sealed off the scene after arriving, and the bodies remained where they were found pending the arrival of State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy.

She arrived at the house at about 6pm to begin a preliminary examination of the bodies at the scene, after which the bodies were due to be moved for a full postmortem.

Those examinations were not due to get under way until this morning.

Sources said it was unlikely that the DPP would approve any charges until the cause of the deaths was confirmed and the inquiry was officially upgraded to a murder investigation.

However, from the time the bodies were found, the full Garda resources of a murder inquiry were committed to the case.

The reason for the nine-hour delay in Prof Cassidy arriving at the house was unclear.

However, it is known that the State pathology service has been under staffing pressure for the past year since former deputy State pathologist Dr Khalid Jaber resigned.

Dr Jaber’s offer to remain in his post until a replacement was found was turned down by then secretary general at the Department of Justice Brian Purcell.