Neighbours break down as news of toddler’s death sinks in

Local saw boy and his mother this week and there was ‘not a bother on them’

The body of two-year-old Hassan Khan is removed from the scene at Ridge Hall in Ballybrack village,   Co Dublin.   Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins

The body of two-year-old Hassan Khan is removed from the scene at Ridge Hall in Ballybrack village, Co Dublin. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins

 

Several neighbours and local people broke down in tears at the Ridge Hall apartment complex on the Shanganagh Road, near Ballybrack, yesterday as a sense of disbelief turned quickly to torment.

The torrential rain was almost relentless as people began to gather and the news of the death of two-year-old Hassan Khan in violent circumstances at the complex began to sink in. Several residents came and went but made no comment to gathering reporters.

There was a large Garda presence at the complex. Detectives could be seen carrying out door-to-door inquiries, while members of the Garda Technical Bureau in white jumpsuits carried out an inspection of the scene.

A resident, Jean, who would only give her first name, said she had heard about the incident on the radio and then again on the bus on her way home, but was unaware of the identity of the boy until she arrived on the scene. She said, “oh no, not him”, when informed by reporters. She added that she had seen the child playing on the green with his mother. “She would wear a bandana on her head, and he was always wild, full of life,” she said.

A shop assistant in the Centra supermarket just up the road from the apartment complex said the boy’s mother had been in the shop a number of times earlier yesterday. “She just kept standing there and staring at me,” said the shop assistant. “She bought coffee and phone credit the first time. She didn’t speak, only to ask for the phone credit.

“Then she came back after about an hour and got another coffee. Twice she went up to the deli to pay when she had already been down here with me to pay.”

Another woman, not a local, drove to the scene and emerged from her car in tears in order to lay a bunch of flowers at the gate to the complex. “It’s not something I ever do, but I just had to come when I heard,” she said.

“I have a little grandson and he’s three, and oh my God, I just can’t imagine. I don’t know anything. I’m just after hearing it on the news. I was only out walking in the park in Cabinteely and I just happened to hear. It just seems to be people coping with the pressure. Families and relationships under pressure, all that kind of stuff. I just can’t imagine it.”

Another local said his niece had been the boy’s babysitter for a time. He said he had seen the boy out walking with his mother earlier this week and there was “not a bother on them”.

Shortly after 6.30pm, an ambulance arrived to take the boy’s body from the scene. It departed at high speed just after 7pm under Garda escort. Some time later, a woman from the complex arrived home and walked straight up to the solitary garda patrolling the entrance to the complex, but broke down before she could say anything.