'A tragedy beyond comprehension': The events that led to the Kanturk murder-suicide

'A tragedy beyond comprehension': The events that led to the Kanturk murder-suicide

Mark, 26, was found dead in his room at the family home in Raheen, Assolas near Kanturk on October 26 last year, after being shot seven times by his 23-year-old brother Diarmuid and 59-year-old father Tadg. They later killed themselves.

MARK O’Sullivan told a friend that he was afraid his brother and father would kill him and make his death look like suicide, an inquest has been told.

Mark, 26, was found dead in his room at the family home in Raheen, Assolas near Kanturk on October 26 last year, after being shot seven times by his 23-year-old brother Diarmuid and 59-year-old father Tadg. They later killed themselves.

An inquest into the three deaths in Mallow yesterday heard that Mark had told a close friend, Claragh Lucey, that he was afraid that Tadg and Diarmuid would kill him and make his death appear like a suicide.

Inspector Anne Marie Twomey said that gardaí received a call at 7.32am on October 26 about an armed incident at Raheen, Assolas, near Kanturk. The body of Mark was found in the house while the bodies of Tadg and Diarmuid were found 500 metres from the house, in a field. Several broken phones and a hammer were found at the entrance to the courtyard of the home.

The alarm was raised after Mark and Diarmuid’s mother Anne had gone to a neighbour’s house on foot, after seeing her youngest son and her husband Tadg fire shots into Mark’s room.

The jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing yesterday in the case of Mark, and ruled that Tadg and Diarmuid had taken their own lives.

 Coroner Dr Michael Kennedy the inquest at Mallow, Co Cork into the murder-suicide deaths of a father and two sons; Mark O'Sullivan, his brother Diarmuid and father Tadg. Pic Larry Cummins.
Coroner Dr Michael Kennedy the inquest at Mallow, Co Cork into the murder-suicide deaths of a father and two sons; Mark O'Sullivan, his brother Diarmuid and father Tadg. Pic Larry Cummins.

After the verdict was delivered by the six-person jury yesterday, the coroner Dr Kennedy said the incident was “a terrible tragedy that was beyond comprehension”, adding that it was very “difficult to make sense of it”.

TIMELINE

FEBRUARY 28, 2020: Anne O’Sullivan was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her husband Tadg told her she should make a will. She was the sole owner of the 115 acres on which they lived.

July 16, 2020: Diarmuid told his mother that he believed he should get the majority of the land, apart from 30 acres of bogland and the house, which could go to Mark. Anne wanted to split the land between both brothers, which angered Diarmuid. A week later, after asking if she had made up her mind about the farm, she said she had not.

He threatened to harm himself. Tadg became agitated and said Anne would be following “two coffins to the graveyard” unless she complied with their wish. Diarmuid and Mark eventually came to an agreement, but Mark later said he only did so to calm the situation between them.

September 17, 2020: Anne drew up a will.

September 24, 2020: She travelled to Dublin with Mark, where she underwent surgery.

October 9, 2020: Tadg drew up his own will and, when that was being discussed by the family, Diarmuid discovered that his mother’s will was not what he had wanted.

October 12, 2020: Anne’s cousin, Louise Sherlock, took Anne to hospital to have her wound treated. Anne felt the journey would be difficult if she was taken by Tadg, who was now cold with her. For the next two weeks, Anne and Mark stayed with the Sherlock family.

During that time, Ms Sherlock went to gardaí in Kanturk to seek advice for Anne and Mark. Anne’s solicitor advised Anne to attempt to open communication with Tadg by sending him a text, to which he did not reply. A solicitor’s letter was then sent to Tadg and Diarmuid, who responded by asking her to come home.

October 25, 2020: Anne and Mark returned home at about 2pm. There was nobody there but Tadg. Diarmuid came back 10 minutes later. After little communication from them, Anne and Mark spent the evening in a different room in the house.

October 26, 2020: Anne was awoken by a sound and saw Tadg and Diarmuid fire shots into Mark’s room. She went to a neighbour’s home at around 7am to raise the alarm. Mark was found dead in his room, while Diarmuid and Tadg’s bodies were found in a nearby field.

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