Boy (9) killed by brother while parents out shopping
Published 15/12/2015 | 02:30
A nine-year-old boy was stabbed to death by his older brother just two months after he had been released from a psychiatric hospital, an inquest heard.
Schoolboy Brandon Skeffington was found with fatal stab wounds on the upstairs landing of the family home in Banada, Tourlestrane, Co Sligo, on July 20th, 2014.
His killer, 20-year-old Shane Michael, died by suicide shortly afterwards. His remains were found in an outside shed beside the home.
An inquest into the brothers' deaths yesterday at Sligo Coroner's Court heard their parents found them after they returned home from a shopping trip with their two-year-old son Calum.
Parents Shane and Carmel Skeffington gave evidence of finding Brandon on the landing in blood-soaked clothing.
His lips were blue and he was pale, the inquest heard.
After the paramedics arrived, Shane Skeffington found his son Shane Michael in an outside shed. The inquest heard a knife with Brandon's blood was found beside his body.
The boys' sister Sharon, who was aged 15 at the time, recalled in a statement that she had been in her bedroom listening to music and texting friends while her parents were away.
At one stage she heard her brothers talking and playing ball together in the utility room beside her room. Then they went quiet and she assumed they had gone upstairs. At one stage Shane Michael knocked on her door and called her name but her door was locked and when she asked "what?" he said: "ah nothing ... just checking".
Mrs Skeffington recalled that initially she thought Brandon was "messing" when she found him on her return home. Her husband Shane remembered that "it seemed like forever" before the paramedics arrived.
When they arrived he went looking for Shane Michael "because I had a feeling he had done this" to Brandon. He found his body in a shed,
Mrs Skeffington told coroner Eamon MacGowan that Shane Michael had been admitted to St Columba's hospital in Sligo on May 14 following a psychotic episode when he had kicked his father. She told the inquest that he had been smoking cannabis for about six or eight weeks before this. He would not eat in the hospital and would not take medication so he received injections.
A week later, the family were asked if they wanted to bring Shane Michael home. He was to continue to take his medication, the drug Olanzapine, but Mrs Skeffington knew that as he refused to take it in hospital he would not take it at home.
Dr Donagh O'Neill confirmed to the inquest that while in hospital Shane Michael had to be restrained and that the medication was administered by injection as he refused to take it orally.
Dr O'Neill told Ciaran Tansey, solicitor for the Skeffington family, that Shane Michael had suffered cannabis induced psychotic symptoms and he would expect these to resolve as long as he stopped using cannabis - even if was not taking the medication. There was a plan in place which had been outlined in a letter to the family's GP and he was satisfied everything had been done correctly.
The jury returned a unanimous verdict of unlawful killing in the case of Brandon Skeffington, and a majority verdict that his older brother had died as a result of suicide "as a result of unsound mind".