Murder-suicide now a ‘regular phenomenon’

A timeline of recent tragic cases in Ireland that involved murder-suicide

Murder-suicide appears to have become a regular phenomenon of recent years, said Deputy State Pathologist Michael Curtis in 2013 when a study on dyadic deaths was published.

The study, carried out by Ciara Byrne, then a student of Forensic Analysis and Investigation at Sligo IT, found the majority of people who killed others before taking their own lives did not suffer from a previous psychiatric illness, and that neither drink nor drugs were major factors.

The study found there were 19 cases in the 12½ years to June 2013.

The following are some of the more recent cases in Ireland.

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*In July, Marco Velocci (28) and his toddler son Alex died when the car Marco was driving was involved in a head-on collision with an articulated lorry on the main Limerick to Tipperary road. The young man had earlier had an altercation with his ex-partner Jodie Power, mother of Alex, after which Marco drove off with the young boy.

Gardaí believe the deaths occurred as the result of a murder-suicide.

The two deceased were buried together.

*In July last year, James Quigley (69), a company director from Co Louth, died after driving into oncoming traffic on a motorway near his home.

When the Garda went to the family home near Hackballscross, to break the grim news, they found the body of Marie Quigley (68).

The couple’s subsequent joint funeral heard that Mr Quigley had been a loving husband and father who had long battled with mental illness.

The Garda treated the deaths as murder suicide.

*In May 2015, two badly decomposed bodies were found at a farmhouse at Boolaglass, Askeaton, Co Limerick by men who broke into the house to steal scrap metal.

The dead were Thomas Ruttle (56), a Co Limerick beekeeper, and Julia Holmes (63), a woman born in Co Tyrone who was being pursued by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in connection with a theft allegation and who had once served time in the US for fraud.

They had met on the internet and it was not believed Mr Ruttle knew of his partner’s criminal background.

An inquest found that they had deliberately exposed themselves to carbon monoxide poisoning using makeshift barbecues in an airtight bedroom.

*In December 2014, Michael Greaney (53), of Cobh, Co Cork, fatally stabbed his wife Valerie (49), and injured one of this two adult children, Michelle Greaney, before taking his own life.

Mr Greaney had a history of mental illness and at one stage he had been ordered to stay away from the family home.

However, a report a few months before the murder-suicide concluded that Mr Greaney was no longer a risk to his family and he was allowed to return.

*In September 2014, Paddy and Thomas O’Driscoll, nine-year-old twins from Deerpark, Charleville, Co Cork, were stabbed to death in their home by their older brother, Jonathan (21), whose body was subsequently found at the banks of the Awbeg River in nearby Buttevant.

The Garda treated the deaths as murder suicide. The boys’ mother, Helen O’Driscoll, later called on people suffering from depression to seek help.

*A report into the deaths of a family of four in Monageer, Co Wexford, in 2007 failed to find any single definite motive behind their deaths.The report found that a number of family, financial and personality-related factors contributed to the decision by Adrian (29) and Ciara Dunne (24) to end their lives and those of their children Leanne (5) and Shania (3). It is believed Mr Dunne killed the other members of his family, before killing himself.