Saturday 14 December 2019

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

Kathleen Chada alongside her mother Patsy Murphy and solicitor leaving the Inquest hearing into the deaths of her sons Eoghan and Ruairi Chada at the Coroner's court in Castlebar, Co Mayo. Picture: Conor McKeown
Kathleen Chada alongside her mother Patsy Murphy and solicitor leaving the Inquest hearing into the deaths of her sons Eoghan and Ruairi Chada at the Coroner's court in Castlebar, Co Mayo. Picture: Conor McKeown

Caroline Crawford

THE two little boys were lying lifeless side by side facing each other in the boot of the crashed Ford Focus. The reason? Money.

Before yesterday's inquest we thought we knew the sad story of Eoghan (10) and Ruairí Chada (5) who were killed by their father Sanjeev last year.

But their mother came to Castlebar looking to get a more complete picture of their final tragic moments.

Kathleen Chada had questions for several of the witnesses as to how her sons had been found. Were they side by side? Were their eyes open or closed? Witnesses, visibly affected by the tragedy, tried their best to alleviate her fears.

The heartbroken mother sat through the inquest at Castlebar Courthouse, reliving the harrowing moments when the children were discovered in the boot of their father's crashed car on July 29, 2013.

Sanjeev Chada was jailed for life last month for the murders at Skehanagh Lower, Balintubber in Co Mayo. He had driven cross-country from the family home in Carlow.

The court heard how the schoolboys were found in the boot of the car by passers-by after Sanjeev crashed in Westport the following day.

Both boys had be strangled with Eoghan, the oldest, also suffering a blunt force trauma to the head prior to his death.

Sean Foy, one of the first men to discover the horrendous deaths told Kathleen her sons were lying side by side. "They seemed to be at peace," he added.

Later, other witnesses did what they could to give her some form of closure. Garda Brian Kilkelly of Westport Garda Station, the first officer at the scene, told the inquest the two boys had been facing each other.

"I discovered two young boys lying on their sides fully clothed and each boy was facing each other in the boot of the motor car," he said.

Following questions from their mother's solicitor on whether the boys' eyes were open or closed he replied: "It's a mental note in my mind but I believe their eyes were closed."

Witnesses told of the devastating discovery of the young brothers, of their father's attempt to strangle himself in the crashed car and his brief comments about the murders.

"It happened 10kms outside Castlebar near 'Abbey', you can see what I did, with the ropes," he told garda Kilkelly at the scene.

Asked why he had done it he simply replied 'money' before adding: "I've ruined everything."

As the evidence was read out Kathleen Chada closed her eyes briefly on hearing one of the statements made by her husband - "I love them so much".

Mandy Semple recalled the moment the boot was opened by one of the men who had stopped to help.

"He bent into the boot and just said "Oh My God" or something like that. I could sense horror in his voice and I looked into the boot. I saw two little boys in the boot of the car. The two little boys appeared lifeless and I just thought they were dead," she said.

Coroner John O'Dwyer told the jury he believed the only appropriate verdict was one of unlawful killings. After just 20 minutes of deliberation the jury of five men and one woman agreed.

Speaking after the verdict, Kathleen Chada expressed her thanks to all the members of the gardai in Castlebar, Westport and Carlow who were involved in Eoghan and Ruairí's case over the last 16 months. In particular Garry Walsh and Tom Fitzmaurice in Mayo and Declan Callan in Carlow.

"The care, respect and dignity I have been given has made a very difficult process just a little bit easier.

"I also thank Fr Fahy in Ballintubber and Fr Charlie McDonnell in Westport along with the many, many people of Mayo who have taken the boys into their hearts and given me support from afar," she said.

The heartbroken mother had a special word of thanks for those who are watched over her boys before they could finally be brought back home to her.

"I also thank all the staff in Mayo General Hospital and particularly Sean and Martin in the morgue, who looked after my boys when I couldn't be with them. They left a light on and I understand they were never left alone."

Kathleen said those who had come on the scene were always in her thoughts.

"I want all those who arrived on the scene of the crash to know I think of them and pray for them often. Again, I know my boys were treated with dignity and respect in what must have been a very difficult time for them," she added.

The heartbroken mother thanked the coroner and jury for their help and understanding before offering her heartfelt thanks to her family and friends and local community.

"Finally I would like to thank my family, friends and wider community both in Carlow and much further afield, who have been there for me.

"To say I have been held over the last 16 months would be an understatement," she said.

Mr O'Dwyer praised Kathleen's ability to carry on following her tragic loss.

"An awful tragedy befell you and it's impossible to try and comprehend the loss and grief you must carry. You have the sympathy of the nation for what has happened to you," he said.

He told the inquest that Kathleen had opted to keep her married name "in deference and respect to her boys. No greater love can a mother give than to do that," he added.

Irish Independent

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