Parents still ‘can’t get heads around’ deaths of their two sons

Mother ‘numb’ on discovering young man stabbed his brother (9) before taking own life


The mother of a young man who fatally stabbed his nine-year-old brother before taking his own life has said she and her husband were “numb” upon discovering their bodies.

Carmel Skeffington said their world “turned upside down” that day adding “even now we can’t get our heads around it”.

Mrs Skeffington and her husband Shane from Tourlesrane, Co Sligo returned from grocery shopping on July 20th, 2014, to discover their eldest son Shane Jnr (19), who was baby-sitting, had stabbed his younger brother Brandon (9) with a knife, leaving him fatally wounded.

Shane Jnr, who had previously been a patient at the mental health unit at St Columbas hospital in Sligo, took his own life and his body was discovered in the shed adjacent to the family home.

The Skeffingtons settled a High Court action against the HSE on Tuesday. They had sued the HSE for alleged negligence and breach of duty. The settlement is without admission of liability and the terms are confidential.

Speaking on RTE News on Tuesday evening, Mrs Skeffington said her husband carried out CPR on their son Brandon for 45 minutes after discovering him.

“He knew that there was no hope but he kept trying. After the paramedics came and they were working on Brandon, Shane found Shane Michael outside in the shed,” she said.

Shane and Carmel Skeffington, of Bandana, Tourlesrane, Co. Sligo pictured outside the Four Courts. Photograph: Collins Courts
Shane and Carmel Skeffington, of Bandana, Tourlesrane, Co. Sligo pictured outside the Four Courts. Photograph: Collins Courts

“We were just numb, our world turned upside down. You couldn’t have even imagined that Shane Michael would have done anything like that. You know he was so loving and caring and he was so good with Brandon.

“He used to call him a little mini him. They were like two peas in a pod the pair of them. They were close.”

Mrs Skeffington said her sons “got on really well” despite the age difference and that Shane Jnr “spoiled” his younger brother.

“He used to bring him away for the day and he took care for him. He really loved his little brother and his little brother really loved him and looked up to him,” she said.

Mrs Skeffington said Shane Jnr was admitted to St Columbas in May 2014 after there was an “incident” with her husband, which she described as “totally out of character”.

“We knew when that happened something was really wrong and we knew that he needed help and all we had hoped by getting him admitted to St Columbas that he would get that help. But we’re here today now without them,” she said.

Mrs Skeffington said after Shane Jnr was discharged from the hospital she and her husband were “out of our depth”.

“We didn’t understand I guess what was wrong. We’re not doctors, we didn’t understand... He (Shane Jnr) did different things helping around the place, he would go fishing with Dad and everything. We thought they were all positive things, that it was good he was doing all them things,” she said.

“He did I guess spend a lot of time in his room, he maybe isolated himself but we didn’t know and I think people need to know these things, they need to be educated in it and they need to know what to look out for.”

Ciarán Tansey, solicitor for the Skeffingtons said the family are “quite satisfied that they were vindicated”.

“The abiding viewpoint of the family is that the HSE makes these changes that are required to ensure that all children are afforded the treatment they deserve and instances like this just don’t happen,” he added.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised, you can contact:

Childline, on 1800-666666 (free), or text “support” to 50101

Pieta House, on 1800-247247 (free)

Samaritans, on 116123 (free), texting 087-2609090 or emailing