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Saturday 20 September 2014

Brandon killed with kitchen knife, post-mortem finds

Caroline Crawford and Tom Brady

Published 23/07/2014 | 02:30

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Brandon Skeffington
Brandon Skeffington
Parents Shane Skeffington Snr and Carmel Healy Skeffington
Forensic experts at the family home built by Shane Skeffington in Banada, Co Sligo. Inset: Shane Jnr and his younger brother Brandon (9).
Forensic experts at the family home built by Shane Skeffington in Banada, Co Sligo. Inset: Shane Jnr and his younger brother Brandon (9).

NINE-year-old Brandon Skeffington was stabbed to death with a long-blade kitchen knife by his older brother, who then killed himself, it emerged as gardai examined the suspected weapon.

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Brandon and Shane Skeffington are expected to be laid to rest together after the tragic case of murder-suicide in Sligo.

Brandon was killed by his older brother Shane (20) at the family home at Banada, Turlestrand, near Tubbercurry, Co Sligo, on Sunday evening.

"The family are waiting for the boys' remains to be released but they hope to have the funeral on Thursday or Friday," said a family friend.

A post- mortem examination by Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis has confirmed that the nine-year-old boy was struck forcibly in the chest with the knife.

Gardai believe that Shane attacked Brandon with the knife after a row broke out between them over a video game, before killing himself. They have recovered what they believe to have been the knife used in the attack. This is now being examined by forensic experts.

A second post-mortem examination on his older brother confirmed that he died as a result of hanging.

Investigating officers have also spoken to the boys' sister Sharon (15), who was in the house at the time.

But she said she was unaware of the incidents until her parents arrived home from an afternoon's shopping in the town, and found the little boy's body on the first floor landing of their house.

Shane Snr and his wife Carmel initially checked outside the house when Brandon did not answer their calls after they arrived home, before making the grim find inside.

Minutes later the body of elder son Shane Jnr was found in the shed behind the home.

The funeral Mass for the brothers is expected to take place at the church in Tourlestrane before burial at the nearby cemetery in Rue later this week.

As the heartbroken Skeffington family finalised funeral arrangements for their two sons, Brandon was remembered as a popular youngster who loved playing with his toy cars.

Lorcan Brennan, principal of Banada National School where Brandon has just finished third class, said parents and teachers at the rural school were shattered by the death.

Child counsellors will begin assisting the traumatised friends of the slain schoolboy in the coming weeks as needed.

"Staff and pupils are deeply shocked and saddened at the sudden and tragic death of Brandon. This is a terrible tragedy for us," said Mr Brennan. "He was a lovely, normal nine-year-old boy. He was a popular child in school, liked his soccer but mostly loved playing with his friends – and he loved his toy cars."

The family home outside Banada remained sealed off yesterday while a Garda forensics team carried out further tests.

Staff from the Sligo dog warden's office took the family's three pet dogs, two dalmatians and a Staffordshire bull terrier, into their centre for a few days until the family are able to return home.

Parents of Brandon's friends gathered with school staff on Monday evening to hear that trained counsellors from the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) will be available for any children affected by the little boy's death.

"Everyone is just in shock. We requested assistance from NEPS and that was immediately made available," added Mr Brennan.

"Parents wanted to know how they tell their children about this tragedy.

"We were able to assure them that the counselling services will be available and will kick in immediately.

"We wanted to open the school up and offer support and guidance to parents as they support their own children."

Parish priest Fr John Glynn said counsellors had urged parents to be as honest as possible with their children.

"One of the main things people were asking about was what to say to their children and the advice was to stick with the truth and always be truthful with them.

"Tell the children the two boys died and just stick to the facts because we really don't know what happened," he said.

The grief-stricken Skeffingtons were being supported by extended family yesterday as they awaited the release of the bodies.

A family member yesterday appealed for privacy as they prepare to bury both brothers.

Irish Independent

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