A man kissed his daughter and told her to take care of her mother just moments after he had killed his wife and just before he took his own life, an inquest has heard.
Michael Greaney (53), killed his wife, Valerie (49), with a single stab wound to the chest at their home at O'Neill Place in Cobh and then went upstairs and stabbed himself to death on the afternoon of December 28th, 2014.
Mr Greaney also attacked his eldest daughter Michelle and, on Tuesday, she told an inquest into her parents’ deaths how the tragedy unfolded, two months after Mr Greaney returned to live at the family home following an earlier incident which led him being sent to the Central Mental Hospital.
Ms Greaney, who was just 18 at the time of the attack, told how she was in her room when she heard three screams and she emerged on to the landing to discover her father in a panic. She said she didn’t realise she had been stabbed as she followed her father downstairs to discover her mother screaming and “hunched in a ball just inside the front door on the ground”.
She checked a drawer for the front door key, but her father took the key from her. “I remember being next to my mam and realising that my clothes were wet and when I checked I saw blood on my hands – I didn’t think it was my blood and then I remembered the knife and I thought I must have been stabbed.
“I said to my dad, ‘don’t hurt me, give me the key or the knife’. I kept saying this and he said, ‘I can’t do that, and take care of your mam’. His mood had changed slightly; it was as if when everything was happening, he wasn’t really there and now he was back, aware, but still panicking.”
“I kept telling him that I loved him and to run away, that I wouldn’t tell anyone – he bent down to kiss me and I kissed him back and then he ran upstairs,” said Ms Greaney who passed out for a short time before managing to make her way out on the street.
The inquest also heard a statement from Mr Greaney’s younger daughter, Sarah – who was 16 at the time – in which she told how she ran from the house just moments after her father attacked her mother in an upstairs room.
"I heard my mam scream upstairs – I heard her shout, 'call the guards' – my first thought was that my dad was after having another mental breakdown," said Sarah Greaney. She ran to neighbour Florence Tabb, who rang the Garda Síochána.
Sgt Ray Coughlan told how he and three colleagues arrived at the scene within minutes to find Valerie Greaney bleeding in the hall but they waited for armed back-up before going upstairs. There, they found Mr Geaney lying on a bed with two stab wounds to his chest and two knives beside him.
The jury returned a verdict that Ms Greaney died as a result of a stab wound inflicted by another person, and that Mr Greaney died as a result of a self-inflicted stab wound,
"It's not necessary to describe the magnitude of the tragedy," said coroner for south Cork Frank O'Connell. "It's very hard to imagine the impact that this has had on the Greaney family – yet it has struck me that Michelle and Sarah should be complimented for the dignity and resilience they have shown in dealing with his tragedy."
Anyone affected by suicide can contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or Aware on 1800 804848 or the ISPCC Childline on 1800 666666.