Tuesday 26 March 2019

'We still love them very much' - parents of teen who killed brother, then himself

Tragic family: Shane and Carmel Skeffington at the Four Courts. Picture: Collins
Tragic family: Shane and Carmel Skeffington at the Four Courts. Picture: Collins
Brandon Skeffington
Shane Skeffington Jr

Tim Healy and Ian Begley

The family of a young man who fatally stabbed his nine-year-old brother before taking his own life have told of their ongoing love for the children.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told by Eoin McCullough SC it was a very tragic case in which Shane Skeffington Jnr (19) assaulted his brother and then killed himself. Shane Jnr had previously been a patient at a mental health facility in Sligo.

Counsel told the court it was their case that had there been better treatment available, there may not have been that outcome.

Shane and Carmel Skeffington, who have three remaining children and live at Banada, Tourlestrane, Co Sligo, had sued the HSE. The claims were denied. The settlement is without admission of liability and the terms are confidential.

Shane Skeffington and his wife Carmel returned from a Sunday afternoon grocery shopping trip to town to their Co Sligo home five years ago to discover their eldest son Shane Jnr, who was on babysitting duty, had stabbed his younger brother Brandon with a knife.

When the Skeffingtons left the house at 4pm, Shane Jnr was playing with his brother in their shared bedroom. Three hours later, they found Brandon lying on his back at the top of the stairs.

His father performed resuscitation with advice from the ambulance service and continued it for 45 minutes.

Mr Skeffington found his son Shane Jnr in the shed adjacent to the family home.

He had taken his own life.

Yesterday Ciaran Tansey, solicitor for the Skeffingtons, said it was a tragic case, and the family hope now to draw the matter to a close.

"This was a particularly traumatic experience for Carmel and Shane Skeffington.

"Matters that arose on the evening of July 20, 2014, will never be forgotten. As far as Carmel and Shane are concerned, they love their children enormously. They are their beloved Shane Michael and their beloved Brandon. They will forever remain so."

He added: "Unfortunately the trauma will live with the family for the rest of their lives. What I would say, however, is that the pleasant memories of their beloved Shane Michael and Brandon will never be forgotten."

The Skeffingtons had sued the HSE for alleged negligence and breach of duty. It was claimed there was an alleged failure to take care of Shane Jnr when he was in St Columba's Hospital, Sligo, in May 2014.

He had been allegedly discharged on leave of absence on May 20, 2014, and considered to be of "no immediate risk of harm to self or others" when clinical notes allegedly recorded him as being aggressive towards a member of nursing staff that same day.

It was further claimed there was an alleged failure to complete a formal risk assessment prior to granting leave and discharge from St Columba's Hospital, and an alleged failure to provide adequate follow-up.

It was further claimed Shane Jnr had been discharged from the mental health system on May 28/29, when allegedly there had been no examination by a psychiatrist or a medical practitioner since his discharge on leave of absence.

Ms Skeffington, it was claimed, is constantly under a dark shadow and is deeply traumatised by the events.

Her husband also continues to suffer from anxiety and grief and suffers from continuously disturbed sleep patterns, it was further claimed.

All the claims were denied.

Approving the settlements, Mr Justice Cross sympathised with the Skeffington family and said it was a sad and tragic case.

Speaking on RTE's 'Six One' last night, Ms Skeffington said she had believed her son would be sufficiently looked after while at St Columba's mental health facility.

"We hoped he would get the help he needed, she said.

After Shane Jnr had been discharged a short time later, Ms Skeffington said they still didn't understand what was wrong. She said that she saw some positive signs in her son's behaviour in the weeks before the incident, but acknowledged that he would spend a lot of time isolated in his bedroom.

"I think people need to be educated and know what to look out for," she said.

"The help needs to be there, definitely."

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article please contact:

Samaritans on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.ie

Aware, on 1800 80 48 48

Pieta House, on 1800 247 247 or email mary@pieta.ie (suicide, self-harm).

Irish Independent

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