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Tuesday 25 April 2017

Murder-suicide dad 'stressed about finances' in run up to Christmas


*Killed wife, himself and seriously injured daughter
*In court for false imprisonment of a young woman
*He had a history of mental health problems
*His wife had pleaded for leniency

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A FATHER of two with mental health problems who died alongside his wife in a tragic murder-suicide had become “very stressed” about family finances over Christmas.

The revelation came as Gardai confirmed they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths of Michael (53) and Valerie (49) Greaney and the stabbing of their eldest daughter, Michelle (23).

The family’s youngest daughter, Sara (16), made the grim discovery as she arrived back to the family home at O’Neill Place in Cobh, Co Cork after her mother asked her to go to a neighbour’s house when she became concerned over Michael’s increasing levels of agitation.

Michael Greaney was released from the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) earlier this year after receiving treatment.

READ: Murder-suicide cases which shocked the nation in 2014  

Locals described him as being in “good form” in early December and Mr Greaney, a Minister of the Eucharist, had even distributed the Eucharist for Christmas Day Mass in St Colman’s Cathedral.

Michael, Valerie, Michelle and Sarah Greaney
Gardai pictured at the scene of a double fatal stabbing in O’Neill’s Place, Cobh, Co. Cork. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Gardai pictured at the scene of a double fatal stabbing in O’Neill’s Place, Cobh, Co. Cork. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

He had also helped out with work around the cathedral.

However, one family friend said he appeared to become “very stressed” after Christmas Day and once again seemed preoccupied about the family finances.

That CMH treatment was ordered after he appeared before the court in 2013 on a charge of false imprisonment and assault against a woman.

He was found guilty but insane by a jury after they heard detailed evidence that, following severe financial problems in his business and spiraling debts, he had suffered from depression, insomnia and stress.

After the attack on the woman, he had attempted to self harm.

His eldest daughter, Michelle, who only graduated from college last year, now remains in a critical but stable condition in Cork University Hospital (CUH) following the stabbing.

Paramedics worked for 30 minutes to stabilise her outside the family home at O'Neill's Place after she staggered towards the front door before collapsing in the front garden.

She sustained stab wounds to the chest and self defence injuries.

During the 2013 court appearance, Michael’s wife, Valerie, pleaded on his behalf saying he had been under tremendous financial and psychological pressure at the time.

The physiotherapist, who comes from a highly respected Cobh family, was suffering from depression, stress and insomnia at the time as well as suicidal tendencies.

In addressing the court, Mr Greaney spoke of his remorse over the attack in which he attempted to smother the woman by stuffing a rag into her mouth.

Seconds after the attack, in which the woman managed to struggle free, he attempted to slash his artery using a Stanley knife with remorse.

In a submission to the court, Mr Greaney said his business had struggled following the Celtic Tiger collapse and had gotten into severe financial difficulties.

At one point, he persuaded his wife, Valerie, to put up the deed of the family home to support the business in which they both worked.

The threat of losing the family home had caused him terrible emotional turmoil.

"This broke me physically and mentally," he said.

"I lost control. I felt so ashamed. It was not me doing this. I let her go...a few seconds ago (she) could have died."

"I knew I was a danger and I had to stop it. I grabbed a bread knife to put in my heart but I couldn't. I took a Stanley knife to cut an artery and kill myself".

Cobh gardai said they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the triple stabbing

The Greaney family home remained sealed off as technical officers conducted a detailed examination.

A knife was recovered at the scene and is undergoing a detailed forensic examination

Sara Greaney was being comforted by family and friends including her aunt, Hylda.

Michelle's boyfriend, a Defence Forces soldier, was informed of the tragedy and was travelling to maintain a vigil by her CUH bedside.

Family friend, Darragh McGann, who attended the scene to offer what support he could, said the entire community was heartbroken by the tragedy.

"The sympathies and prayers of the entire Cobh community goes out to the Greaney family at this terrible time. It is just so, so sad," he said.

Valerie Greaney had lost her mother less than two months ago.

The mother of two was tentatively making plans to celebrate her 50th birthday early next year.

A neighbour, who asked to be unnamed, said news of the tragedy spread when people attending family graves in Cobh cemetery for the New Year, located directly across the road from the Greaney family home, suddenly spotted garda cars and ambulances racing to the scene.

"It was absolutely appalling - no-one could believe what had happened. There are two long-standing and highly respected Cobh families involved in this and it has cast a black shadow over the New Year."

"The awful part is that people here still remember the shock over the O'Grady family (Niall and Veronica) who died in a similar tragedy about 20 years ago."

Niall and Veronica O'Grady were discovered fatally stabbed in their Rushbrooke home in July 1991 after a neighbour received a call asking that their children be looked after.

If you're affected by any of the above issues, you can call the Samaritans in the Republic of Ireland on 116 123 or in Northern Ireland on 08457 90 90 90

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