Thursday 23 October 2014

Heartbreak as two young lives end violently

Parents arrive home to find son (9) stabbed to death, older brother (20) hanged

Caroline Crawford and Tom Brady

Published 22/07/2014 | 02:30

Forensic experts at the family home built by Shane Skeffington in Banada, Co Sligo. Inset: Shane Jnr and his younger brother Brandon (9).
Parents Shane Skeffington Snr and Carmel Healy Skeffington
Gardai scene of crime officers at the house where two brothers died in Turlestrand, Co Sligo
Gardai scene of crime officers at the house where two brothers died in Turlestrand, Co Sligo

A FAMILY have been left inconsolable after the fatal stabbing of a nine-year-old boy by his older brother, who then hanged himself.

Shane Skeffington and his wife Carmel returned from a Sunday afternoon shopping trip to town to find a scene of horror in the house where they had left their eldest son Shane Jnr on babysitting duty.

In an inexplicable act of violence, Shane (20) stabbed his younger brother Brandon with a knife, leaving him fatally wounded.

The troubled youngster then headed to the shed behind their house in rural Co Sligo, which his father, a blocklayer, had built seven years ago, intending it to be a dream family home.

As the couple frantically alerted the emergency services at around 8pm on Sunday night, it became clear that Shane Jnr had killed his younger brother before taking his own life.

Their sister, Sharon (15) had been relaxing in the house in Banada, Tourlestrane, near Tubbercurry, unaware of the unfolding tragedy that claimed the lives of her brothers.

Brandon was in the national school in Banada, and would have been going into fourth class after the summer.

As his young classmates struggled to comprehend the news, tributes were paid to a popular young boy who was "bright as a button".

Emergency services rushed to the scene when the alarm was raised and Brandon was airlifted to Sligo Regional Hospital.

But he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

It is understood he was stabbed twice in the chest.

Gardai carried out a detailed search of the house and surrounding area and took possession of a knife.

It was handed over to members of the technical bureau for forensic examination to determine if it was the murder weapon.

The heartbroken parents were at the hospital, where they were briefed by senior gardai, before a post-mortem examination of the bodies of their sons was carried out by the deputy state pathologist, Dr Michael Curtis, yesterday evening.

Gardai investigating the tragedy said they were not seeking anyone else in connection with their inquiries.

Shane Jnr had been troubled in recent months and was due in court this week to face a charge of cocaine possession.

He had been known to the gardai following minor offences in the past. However, he had no criminal convictions.

Last April, he was fined €200 at Tubbercurry District Court after he was caught with a smoked cannabis |joint. Three months earlier, he had been given the Probation Act after he was found with €40 worth of the drug.

In March, he was among a group of men who had been charged with violent disorder.

The full details of the tragedy were emerging last night as Dr Curtis completed his examinations.

The parents, Shane and Carmel, had left the house at 4pm and asked Shane Jnr to babysit his young brother.

They returned home shortly before 8pm and found their nine-year-old son lying unconscious on the first floor landing of their home with obvious stab wounds.

The couple immediately rang the emergency services and then, shortly afterwards, Mr Skeffington discovered his eldest son’s body in the shed behind the house. After stabbing his brother, he had hanged himself.

The couple also have a three-year-old boy, Callum.

As the rural community struggled with the double tragedy, local parish priest Fr John Glynn remembered Brandon, a popular third class student, as a happy-go-lucky child.

“He was in the national school in Banada, he would have been going into fourth class after the summer. He was a bright, lively little lad. He was lovely, as bright as a button,” he said.

“The community is shocked and saddened by this. We are meeting with the parents this evening and there will be support available.”

This was not the first tragedy to befall the family. They are relatives of Michael Skeffington, who was jailed for killing his son at their home in Salford, outside Manchester, in England, in April 2011.

Michael Skeffington pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his son, Daniel, on the grounds of diminished responsibility at Manchester Crown Court in September of that year.

Irish Independent

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