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Sunday 20 August 2017

Grandfather holds bedside vigil for Conor after 'murder-suicide' death of mum Concepta

Killer Phair described as a 'monster' and a former 'wife beater'

A priest at the scene of the tragedy in Maguiresbridge, Co Fermanagh Inset: Concepta Leonard
A priest at the scene of the tragedy in Maguiresbridge, Co Fermanagh Inset: Concepta Leonard

Victoria Leonard and Luke Byrne

The father of tragic Concepta 'Connie' Leonard is keeping a round-the-clock vigil at his disabled grandson's hospital bedside after a suspected murder-suicide in a Co Fermanagh village in the North.

Well-known Irish musician Dinny Leonard has been supporting his late daughter Connie's son Conor, who has Down Syndrome, since the shocking incident which claimed the life of Conor's 51-year-old mother and a 55-year-old man.

Peadar Phair
Peadar Phair

The attack on Conor, who was in the house in Maguiresbridge at the time of the incident and suffered stab wounds to his abdomen, is being treated as attempted murder.

The man who died is understood to be Connie's estranged partner Peadar Phair, who is not Conor's father. It's alleged that the 55-year-old killer was an infamous wife beater in the past.

Detectives remained at the scene on Abbey Road where the incident occurred yesterday.

They have confirmed they are treating Ms Leonard's death as murder. They have also stated they are not looking for anyone else in relation to the incident.

Concepta Leonard
Concepta Leonard

Ms Leonard was a business woman who had been involved in catering in the south Fermanagh region and once ran a business in nearby Lisnaskea.

She was also a talented musician who played traditional Irish music, including the accordion, like her father.

Conor Leonard is fighting for his life
Conor Leonard is fighting for his life

Parish priest Fr Lawrence Dawson said a "wave of shock and grief" had spread through the area.

"I knew Connie very well, she was an active member of the parish, a great musician, an all-Ireland champion and she shared her talents in church services," he told the BBC.

"It affects everyone when they see how fragile life is and how easily it can be snuffed out."

Fermanagh Women's Aid said that the "tragic and horrific" case highlighted the "dreadful reality of domestic violence".

The house in Co Fermanagh
The house in Co Fermanagh

"We at Fermanagh Women's Aid wish to express our deepest sympathies and condolences to the family of Concepta Leonard and we wish her son Conor a full and speedy recovery," it stated.

"Concepta's life matters - she was a smart, funny caring woman. The enormity of this, the dreadful reality of domestic violence, is still not talked about enough."

Meanwhile, sports clubs and music groups throughout Co Fermanagh paid tribute to the popular local woman.

St Patrick's Gaelic Football Club Donagh, where Connie and her son attended traditional music sessions, said: "Everybody from the traditional session and St Patrick's GFC would like to extend our very deepest sympathies to Conor, Dinny and the family and friends of Concepta Leonard. We wish Conor a very speedy recovery."

Newtownbutler Comhaltas also extended its "sincerest heartfelt sympathy".

"We will always remember Connie with great fondness for her affection, dedication and energetic outlook shown in all areas of her life," said the traditional Irish music group.

Irish Independent

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