Monday 24 July 2017

Two families, two children; one unbelievable tragedy

Edel Kennedy and Breda Heffernan

The family homes of murdered Michaela Davis and her accused killer, Jonathan Byrne, are less than a 15-minute walk apart. And although the parents didn't know each other, Jonathan and Michaela did, with Michaela sometimes visiting the home of the 18-year-old in Lohunda Downs, Clonsilla, west Dublin.

Michaela lived in the semi-detached house in The Village, Porterstown, with her brother Brendan (16) and parents Brendan and Deirdre.

The family moved into the house when Brendan was born, and are originally from the area.

Their home faces on to a green area surrounded by railings which is a popular spot for the neighbourhood children to gather for a game of football or to ride their bicycles. A line of trees separates it from the Royal Canal and beyond that the railway line where Michaela's body was found on Saturday.

Just outside the gates of the estate lies St Mochta's Football Club where Michaela's brother plays for the under-17 team. Locals described him as a popular member of the team and a talented footballer.

Michaela had finished at St Mochta's National School at the top of the road and had just started secondary school at nearby Luttrellstown Community College. A popular girl with a wide circle of friends, she was particularly close to her grandmother.

A short distance away is Lohunda Downs where Jonathan's family have also been living for a long time.

His mother Kathryn works in the local Spar shop, along with Jonathan's older brother Keith. His father William works in Dublin Airport while one daughter lives abroad.

However, she was home just over a week ago for the wedding of another sister, Natasha, to her long-term partner. The entire family celebrated the big day before Natasha and her new husband flew out on their week-long honeymoon last Thursday. It is understood they have since returned.

Last night, a steady stream of family and friends called to Michaela's home to sympathise with her family and to leave bouquets of flowers.

A woman, who did not say what her relationship with the family was, insisted that they would not be talking to the media in the coming days.

Beyond the mourners gathered around the family home, there was no activity in the leafy red brick estate but a crew of gardai maintained a vigil into the late evening.

Local councillor Kieran Dennison said parents in the area have been grappling with the difficult task of explaining to their younger children what happened to the schoolgirl.

"People are just trying to come to terms with it and explain it to their children as best they can. Parents are trying to get their heads around the fact that this was a 12-year-old child that it happened to," he said.

Meanwhile, a Facebook tribute page to Michaela had attracted more than 3,800 followers by last night. Many of those had never met the schoolgirl but felt compelled to offer their condolences to her family.

Irish Independent

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