A PLASTIC crisp wrapper thrown on to the dying embers of a fire caused the deaths of a father and his two children, investigators now believe.
Trevor Wallwork, his daughter Kimberley (12), and son Harry (9) were found dead at their home outside the south Sligo village of Gurteen 12 days ago. The Irish Independent has learned that a large plastic wrapper from a crisp multi-pack caused a blockage and sent the deadly fumes into the living room where the family was watching television.
Mr Wallwork (50) was found dead on a chair. His children were found lying on the floor. Kimberley was found beside a Christmas list she had written, detailing presents she planned to buy.
Gardai and fire officers spent almost three days at the house investigating the deaths. A post mortem found all three had died from carbon monoxide poisoning. One source confirmed: "The investigators have looked at every aspect of this incident and believe the Wallworks were killed by fumes from the fire in the living room -- and that those fumes were caused by a blockage in the chimney created by a plastic crisp wrapper."
Fresh details of the incident emerged last night as 400 people gathered for a memorial service for the family.
The children's brave stepmother Susan made the short journey from Sligo General Hospital, where she is being treated for cancer, to the chapel at Nazareth House for last night's service.
She sat just a few feet from the coffin of her husband and the two white coffins of her stepchildren during the service conducted by the parish priest Fr Joe Caufield and Methodist minister Stephen Taylor.
Holding her hand was her daughter Vicky, who had found the bodies at the family home in the townland of Moygara. Three of Mr Wallwork's brothers travelled from Lancashire for the service.
"Having now met the people of Gurteen, I can now understand why Trevor settled in this community," one brother, Charlie Wallwork, said.
Kevin Gallagher, principal of Mullaghroe National School where Harry and Kim were pupils, shook with emotion as he described how they had contributed to life there.
Harry, he said, loved to play cowboys in the school playground and had become an accomplished bodhran player.
"A couple of weeks ago the teacher remarked that Harry was a natural player. Harry heard this and his face just lit up with pride," said Mr Gallagher.
His sister was always looking out for him, making sure he had everything he needed.
"A few weeks ago Sligo Rovers brought the FAI Cup to the school and the first picture taken on the new school camera was of Kimberley and Harry lifting the cup. I was going to give the picture to Kimberley as a present... but now it will take pride of place in the school instead.
"Kimberley told me that she lived at 'Forget Me Not' cottage. This is so apt because I will never forget her and Harry."
School friends of the children read prayers and mourners heard Fr Caufield say that "an accident so simple" had plunged "their nearest and dearest family and friends into darkness".
The memorial service ended with the Gurteen choir singing 'Silent Night' as mourners signed a book of condolences.
Among them was 12-year-old Veronica Matczynska, from Tubbercurry, who had become friends with Kimberley when visiting her stepsister Vicky.
The Wallworks are to be taken to England in a fortnight for burial. Gardai believe their deaths were accidental but will not make a public statement until toxicology reports on the bodies are returned.