Wednesday 16 October 2019

Dead family spent last hours with sick mum in hospital

Gardai at scene in Gurteen, Co. Sligo, where a man and two children died, yesterday

Ed Carty

THE middle-aged man found dead with his two children in a suspected accidental gas poisoning spent their last night alive visiting their sick mother in hospital.

Trevor Wallwork, 52, was found dead in an armchair in the living room of the family's isolated bungalow with his children Kimberley, aged 12, and nine-year-old Harry at his feet.

They had been living in the Forget Me Not cottage in Moygara, about one mile from Gurteen, south Co Sligo, for about six years.

The family spent their final hours in Sligo General Hospital where wife and mother Sue is seriously ill with cancer. She has been battling the disease for several years.

Gardai fear that the three may have died after carbon monoxide leaked into the living room from an appliance or boiler. Foul play was ruled out after initial examinations.

Vicky Barnes, Sue's daughter from a previous relationship who lives in Tobercurry, raised the alarm after calling at the home on Sunday night.

Christmas decorations including a tree with lights were on display in the home.

Gardai are investigating claims that there was a strong odour in the house linked to leaking gas when the three bodies were discovered. Two dogs were also found dead.

Inspector Colm Nevin of Ballymote Garda Station said detectives were treating the deaths as a tragic accident.

Mr Wallwork is believed to have worked as a bricklayer in Coventry, England, before moving his family to the Sligo area but he has not worked full time in the Gurteen area while caring for his sick wife and looking after the children.

One local man revealed he saw Mr Wallwork and the youngsters in Sligo General on Saturday evening while others described a quiet family who kept themselves to themselves.

Christy O'Grady, owner of O'Grady's filling station and shop in Gurteen, spoke to Mr Wallwork almost every day.

"He'd be in one, two or maybe even three times a day. He was in and out of the shop," he said.

"He was a lovely man. His general demeanour was very pleasant, very chatty. They had just arrived here from the UK when I got to know him. I don't know why they came here, to this place. You get a lot of English people who move over and you wouldn't get to know them. But I always made a point of speaking to him.

"Trevor wasn't like that, you would think you knew him all your life. We often talked about Sue and her illness."

The youngsters attended Mullaghroe National School in Gurteen and Kim had competed in the Cumannn na mBunscoil pupil and teacher GAA competition in Markievicz Park, Sligo, last summer.

Gardai were alerted to the deaths last night at about 9.40pm after an ambulance crew was called to the scene. A local doctor pronounced them dead at about 11pm.

Michael Curtis, the Deputy State Pathologist, arrived at the house at midday today to lead technical examinations. The bodies were removed about an hour later for post mortem examinations in Sligo General, where Sue is being cared for.

A full forensic inquiry will also take place.

Gerry Murray, a Fine Gael councillor living in the area, said the small community of about 300 people in Gurteen had been left stunned.

"The details of the deaths we don't know, but I do know that the village of Gurteen is very upset," he said.

An inquest into the deaths of 84-year-old Annie Gallagher and 79-year-old Sarah McDyer earlier this month found they died from asphyxiation due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

The gas had been released by a domestic cooker in Mrs Gallagher's home in Glenties, on September 24 2009.

Fianna Fail Senator Marc Mac Sharry extended his condolences to the family and friends of the Wallworks.

"This is a devastating tragedy, made more difficult to comprehend coming so close to Christmas. I know the community in the village of Gurteen has been deeply shocked by this tragedy," he said.

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