Tuesday 19 September 2017

'The most devastating moment of my life' - son on finding mother after she was killed by his dad in murder suicide

Marie and Jim Quigley
Marie and Jim Quigley

Elaine Keogh

THE children of Jim and Marie Quigley, who died in a murder suicide, have said Ireland is “rampant” with mental health issues which "should not be ignored."

In a statement issued after the inquests into their parents deaths, which were held today, they said they live with, “this tragedy every minute of every day.”

Their mother Marie was found dead in her bedroom and their father Jim died after driving his car into the path of an articulated lorry on the M1 motorway.

It is believed that Jim murdered Marie before taking his own life.

Dundalk Coroner’s Court heard their son Kieran had a bad feeling when his dad did not turn up to meet him at the DOE test centre in Dundalk about 2.45pm on the 27th July 2015.

He rang his mother and father’s phones but no one answered so he went to the family home at Newtownbalregan outside Dundalk. He told gardai he thought his father may have had a heart attack.

When he arrived at the house he saw the blinds were down in his parents bedrooms; his mother was an early riser and always pulled up her blind.

The back door was locked so he opened the front door and went upstairs.

His father’s bedroom was empty but his mother’s door was locked.  He was ringing her phone and could hear it ringing out (in the locked room).

He rang 999 and family members.  His uncle and cousin arrived and the three of them tried to open the door.  When they got it open Kieran said he could see a blanket over somebody and there was blood all over the place.

It was he said, “the most devastating moment in my life,” he told gardai.

Garda Superintendent Brian Mohan, then an inspector based in Dundalk, said the body of Mrs Quigley was lying across the bed and was partially covered.

She has suffered severe head injuries and a towel was stuck in her mouth.  The doctor on call pronounced her dead at the scene.

State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy performed a post mortem and said she had been the victim of a violent attack while in bed.  Mrs Quigley had suffered blunt force trauma to the head with an object such as a hammer and had been struck in excess of a dozen times.

She had stab wounds to her face and neck and there was a scalding injury to her face as well as bruising to both her hands.  She concluded death was due to instrumental blunt force trauma to the head and obstruction of the airways because of a gag.

She said death would have been rapid and within minutes of the assault.

The inquest heard that James Quigley had driven southwards on the hard shoulder of the northbound lane of M1 south of Dundalk and had then driven into an articulated lorry.

Garda Fiona Dunne, Castlebellingham said she got a call about it from an off duty garda at 2.21pm and when she got to the scene said the driver, had extensive injuries and he was pronounced dead at the scene by a local GP.  He was formally identified using DNA evidence.

Dr Cassidy said that her post mortem concluded he had driven into the path of the lorry and his death, which was instantaneous, was due to crush injuries as a result of the collision.

The jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing for Mrs Quigley and for her husband they returned an open verdict.

The gardai and Coroner and jury expressed their sympathies to the families of the deceased. 

In a statement issued through their solicitor Kieran, Sonya, Mark and Gavin Quigley, the children of the deceased said, “the sense of losing both parents is overwhelming and we are living with this tragedy every minute of every day.  We can only pray time will ease the heartache and heal our souls.”

“We hope people can understand what we have been through and hope that when today concludes, that our grieving can progress and we ask the media to respect our privacy.”

They said, “we lived with our father’s mental illness all our lives.  In recent years our father had some major physical problems and coupled with the enormous medication along with his mental health problems, we now know  he was beyond helping.”

“Jim was a loving father and husband, and Marie, a dearly loved and devoted wife and mother who supported Jim throughout his illness and that is why she isn’t here today.”

They said, “Mental health is a form of disease which is sometimes not visibly noticeable and which this country is rampant with, but it should not be ignored.”

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