Agonising wait for family to find out how father and children died
DISTRAUGHT relatives of the father and two children thought to have died of gas poisoning face an agonising Christmas as they wait for laboratory tests to be completed.
The bodies of Trevor Wallwork and his children Kim (12) and Harry (9) are expected to be brought to Manchester for burial.
They were found dead at their rural cottage just outside Gurteen, Co Sligo, on Sunday with post-mortem tests pointing to carbon monoxide poisoning.
However, the cause of their deaths is unlikely to be confirmed until well into the New Year because the holiday season will close UK test labs.
The Irish Independent has learned that the results of toxicology tests carried out during the post-mortem will not be ready for up to six weeks.
Mr Wallwork's wife Susan was being comforted by her daughter Vicky Whitehorn at the hospital yesterday as the children's birth mother was informed of the tragedy at her home in Lancashire.
Specialist counsellors were also brought into Mullaghroe National School where Kim was in sixth class and Harry was in the fourth class, said Fr Joe Caulfield, chairman of the board of governors there.
"Everyone has been terribly upset since we heard the news," said Fr Caulfield, the parish priest of Gurteen.
"I met the children's father on a number of occasions, the last being in June at the end of the school year, and Mr Wallwork was adamant about the value of a small school for his children.
"Now the enormity of what has happened is starting to sink in. Our prayers and thoughts are with the children's own mother in England and their stepmother in hospital here and of course their stepsister Vicky."
Garda investigations into the deaths continued at the family home in the townland of Moygara until after dark last night, assisted by fire and gas experts.
An expert from FloGas removed a gas canister from the premises late in the afternoon before Sligo County Chief Fire Officer Paul Coyle was assisted by colleagues as they examined the chimney at 'Forget Me Not Cottage'.
Volunteers from Sligo Animal Rescue, who said they were acting on behalf of the family, took away two family dogs that survived the horrific incident.
The technical examination has been completed with garda sources saying they will await the results of the toxicology tests before a file is prepared for the county coroner's office.
Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that Mr Wallwork, whose wife has been battling cancer, had hoped to move back to England in the New Year to find work. He had placed an advertisement on a website seeking work in the northwest of England, explaining that he had moved to Ireland seven years ago. He said he had lost his job as a result of the recession.
He added he had 30 years' experience in the building trade.
He said in the advert posted in September: "I moved over to Ireland from the UK seven years ago, working as a finishing foreman and promoting health and safety as I have worked as a health and safety officer.
"I am hoping to be back in the UK in about six months."