Inquest hears father, daughter died from gunshots


A father and daughter whose bodies were found at a house in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, last year each died from single gunshot wounds to the head, an inquest was told today.

Mr Christopher Crowley (43), used a sawn-off shotgun to kill his six-year-old daughter, Deirdre, before turning the gun on himself, after gardaí had called to the house on Colville Road and left to make further inquiries.

Mr Crowley, who was separated from his wife, Ms Christine O’Sullivan, had been missing for 21 months with Deirdre when the incident happened in August last year.

He had taken his daughter for a day out in December 1999 and failed to return. Ms O’Sullivan, who travelled from her home in Cork for the inquest, gave evidence of formally identifying her daughter’s body to gardaí at St Joseph’s Hospital on September 1st, two days after the shootings.

Prof John Harbison, the State pathologist, described the scene in the rented house, where Mr Crowley kept his daughter unknown to neighbours, on the evening the incident took place.

Before examining the bodies, he had observed a "clean and tidy" kitchen, where food had recently been prepared. In the living room there were boxes on the floor and toys including teddy bears, dolls and a toy radio. Beside a television in the corner of the room, there was a large collection of crayons and pastels, he said.

In the bathroom-cum-laundry, the bodies of Mr Crowley and his daughter were on the floor. Deirdre’s left leg was underneath her father’s right leg and her right arm was in a pool of blood. The shotgun was still clutched tightly in Mr Crowley’s hand.

Prof Harbison said Mr Crowley had shot himself in the side of the neck and cheek, but his cranium was intact and it appeared he had not died instantaneously.

Deirdre, however, had suffered massive damage to the head. No part of her face was recognisable, he said.

He later carried out full post-mortem examinations at St Joseph’s Hospital. Mr Crowley, he concluded, had died from shock and haemorrhage caused by a gunshot wound consistent with self-infliction.

In his examination of Deirdre’s body, he noticed two semi-circular abrasions on the side of her neck. They were larger than the nozzle of the gun and he was "at a loss" to explain their cause.

Like her father, she had died from a single shotgun wound to the head, the shot having been discharged at close range.

After Prof Harbison completed his evidence, Supt Dick Burke, of Clonmel, was granted an adjournment of the inquest by the coroner for South Tipperary, Mr Paul Morris.

Supt Burke said a file in relation to the case had been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions and a decision was awaited.

The inquest was listed for mention on June 24th.