Sunday 24 September 2017

'Seeing back-to-school clothes is a painful reminder' - Mum whose two sons were killed by their father

Kathleen is trying to rebuild her life
Kathleen is trying to rebuild her life

Kathy Armstrong

A grieving mum whose two sons were killed by their father has said that seeing back-to-school clothes is a painful reminder of their death.

Kathleen Chada's world was shattered when her husband Sanjeev murdered their sons Eoghan (10) and Ruairi (5) on July 29 2013.

He killed the boys at at Skehanagh Lower in Ballintubber, Co Mayo and their bodies were found in the boot of Chada’s car, which he had crashed near Westport.

Kathleen (46) said that milestones like children going back to school can be a painful reminder of her loss but that she is comforted by faith and said she "no longer fears death" as she is confident she'll see them again one day.

She told Independent.ie: "Your story is out there and I've paid a very high price, in a heartbeat I would change where I am right now.

"I talk about it because I won't brush it under the carpet, it is happening, it's happened to me and many other people in different degrees and the outcome is the same.

Eoghan and Ruairi Chada
Eoghan and Ruairi Chada

"I don't know what you can do to stop it but you see it on the news so much more now - various cases of domestic violence against men, against women and against children, that scares me.

"It is family members, parents committing these offences and it goes against everything that should be instinctively right.

"I will talk about it - I won't normalise it because it isn't normal - in the hope that it will open up the discussion and people will reach out before it ever gets to the point of no return."

She added that it is painful to see stories about other murders.

She said: "It hurts to see these other cases but I find it very difficult to stop reading, you feel what they're going through in those immediate days, the decisions they're making at that point.

"I know how difficult it is, you're in shock and you're trying to make decisions in a very abnormal situation, there's media coverage and you're conscious of people's feelings and wanting to do the right thing.

Sanjeev Chada
Sanjeev Chada

"I know I wanted to make Eoghan and Ruairi proud of me and I wanted everything I did to be a tribute to them and to celebrate them.

"Even in those horrendous days immediately after they died there were still moments of laughter in my house and there's a normality in that because you can't live in that acute pain all the time, it's not good for your mental, physical or emotional wellbeing."

Read More: Wife of man who murdered their two sons awarded €77k

Kathleen, who lives in Bagnelstown in Co Carlow, said that the family had a happy life before the boys died.

She said: "They were both were sporty, happy, bright, confident kids, they were very close and a big part of the community and local GAA scene.

"I think they would have had bright futures, I know every parents says this but I was so proud of them.

"I could see Eoghan's personality being shaped and Ru was so confident from the word go.

"It seems strange to say now but they were so close to Sanj, we always said how lucky we were to have him stay at home with them.

"I won't turn them into martyrs, they were normal kids and would have their moments but we were very happy."

Ten days before they died Kathleen found out that Sanjeev had embezzled €56,000 from a local community scheme.

She said: "There was no indication that anything was wrong, he was quiet, never aggressive or violent and I never thought he could do anything like this.

"The first sign anything was wrong was when I found out about the embezzlement but I thought we would deal with it and see what happened."

Read More: Boys had to die because of my money woes, killer dad said

Sanjeev Chada flanked by detectives at an earlier court hearing. Pic Frank Mc Grath
Sanjeev Chada flanked by detectives at an earlier court hearing. Pic Frank Mc Grath

Kathleen has spoken candidly about how certain reminders of the boys can trigger her to feel upset but that her strong Catholic faith and support system of family, friends and colleagues has helped her.

She said: "In the very early days I think my parked my grief about Eoghan and Ru dying and focused on the marriage being over as it was easier - there's a difference between accepting they're gone and accepting they're gone and never coming back.

"I still have times when I'm not sure they're gone but I'm not sure in a way that I ever want to get over losing them.

"I've made a conscious not to become angry and bitter.

"Milestones can jerk me and I know that will happen for the rest of my life, Ru has a cousin the same age and whenever she's doing things I think he should be there.

"Big milestones like birthdays and anniversaries you can almost prepare for but sometimes smaller things like seeing the back to school clothes - something I bought for years - can really hit you because you don't expect it.

"I live with this every day though and it's me now, I've had four years to learn and shape how I deal with it."

Kathleen said that she feels like her beloved boys are still with her.

She said: "I've very strong faith that they're here every day and I'll see them again, in a morbid way I no longer fear death as I know I'll be with them again.

Eoghan (left) and Ruairi Chada
Eoghan (left) and Ruairi Chada

"It might sound strange but I think they're content and have some peace knowing they're together."

Kathleen no longer has any contact with Sanjeev, who received two life sentences to run concurrently.

She is involved in the Sentencing And Victims Equality group, which lobbies for minimum sentencing for certain crimes.

She said: "It won't help me but it could help others, I think he's probably a model prisoner and isn't a threat to society so he could get out of Arbour Hill Prison early and still be a relatively young man.

"The thought of seeing him again physically would be incredibly difficult but it's not something I have control over."

  • Kathleen was speaking ahead of the broadcast of Murder In The Family: True Lives, which will air on TV3 on Thursday at 9pm

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