Thursday 22 August 2019

Son has no memory of murder-suicide that killed parents

Kitty Fitzgerald was found in the hallway of the family home
Kitty Fitzgerald was found in the hallway of the family home

Caroline Crawford

The son of a husband and wife who died in a murder-suicide in Co Mayo last year has no memory of the tragic incident, a coroner's court has heard.

Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald were found dead at their home at Knockadoon, Co Mayo, on November 1, 2016.

The body of Tom Fitzgerald (75) was found behind a storage shed on the farmyard outside the family home near Irishtown. His wife Kitty (72) was discovered in a pool of blood in the hallway of the home. Their only son Paul was found in a disorientated state in the home suffering serious head injuries.

Pat O'Connor, coroner for Mayo, described the case as one of the most difficult a coroner could be asked to deal with.

Gardaí were alerted by Aoife O'Gorman, the girlfriend of Paul who had called to the farm after failing to hear from Paul, which was out of character.

Ms O'Gorman found Paul's Jeep and dogs in the yard. When she approached the door she noticed a bloody handprint on it. She could hear a power shower but received no answer when she knocked.

Tom Fitzgerald suffered from depression
Tom Fitzgerald suffered from depression

Paul eventually came out. He had two black eyes, a serious wound to the back of his head and was incoherent. "I could see into his skull," she said.

The inquest heard he was making no sense. "I asked him where his parents were and why they didn't bring him to the hospital. He said he didn't know. Paul said random words, shower, bed, he wasn't making sense," said Ms O'Gorman.

After he re-entered the house, Ms O'Gorman noticed one of the dogs 'whimpering' by the door. Fearing Paul had collapsed she went inside.

"I went towards the hallway and looked and I saw a body on the ground. Molly the dog was beside the body," she said.

Ms O'Gorman called 999. On arrival, armed gardaí used a stungun on Paul as he was acting in an unpredictable manner with his hands in his pockets.

Gardaí found Mrs Fitzgerald dead in the hallway. She had suffered a number of blows to the head. They found the body of her husband behind a shed. He was partially submerged in a water tank.

The inquest also heard from Paul who said he had no memory of what occurred in the home. He told the inquest there had never been any problems between his parents and described their relationship as strong.

He said his father had suffered from depression in the past and was taking tablets. Paul said he often went home to help out his parents but could not remember why he had visited on this occasion.

Forensic scientist John Hoade told the inquest the blood spatter suggested Mrs Fitzgerald was initially assaulted in the main bedroom and as she made her way up the hallway she was fatally struck on the head where she lay.

Dr Michael Curtis, deputy State pathologist, said Mrs Fitzgerald also had bruising to her left arm and hand consistent with defensive-type injuries.

In the case of Mr Fitzgerald, Dr Curtis noted superficial wounds on his neck consistent with self-inflicted injuries.

He had suffered damage to his pharynx and oesophagus, consistent with ingestion of corrosive fluid. Dr Curtis recorded cause of death as ingestion of corrosive fluid with pharyngeal and oesophageal necrosis.

The jury recorded a verdict of death by homicide for Mrs Fitzgerald and one of self-inflicted homicide in the case of her husband.

If you have been affected by any of these issues you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or Pieta House on 1800 247 247

Irish Independent

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