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Debt drove Monageer couple to destroy family


The Wexford supporting Dunne family shown pictured in April 2005 in Wexford Park. Adrian, his wife Ciara, and their daughters Shania (14 months) and Lean (3)

The Wexford supporting Dunne family shown pictured in April 2005 in Wexford Park. Adrian, his wife Ciara, and their daughters Shania (14 months) and Lean (3)


THE tragic Monageer couple were driven by debt and despair to destroy their family, a State inquiry found yesterday.

Adrian Dunne (29) was found hanged and his wife Ciara (24) strangled, after their two daughters, Lean (5) and Shania (3) were suffocated in their home in Monageer, Co Wexford, on April 23, 2007.

The report into the deaths of the couple and the two girls found “several factors contributed to Adrian and Ciara Dunne’s decision to end their lives and those of their children”.

It says the Dunnes may have been devastated by fear and despair at mounting debts and isolation from loved ones.

The inquiry into the horrific murder-suicide deaths of a young family of four was heavily critical of the lack of out-of-hours social services in Co Wexford.

But the investigation found the tragic killings would not have been stopped by a visit by the gardai and health workers.

As the Children’s Minister Barry Andrews admitted the State could not afford to put in place the 24-hour on-call social worker cover recommended in the report, it was revealed that:

? Adrian Dunne had first approached a funeral planner over two weeks before the family were found dead;

? The couple were in debt to the region of €34,400;

? They owed money to banks and credit unions in Letterkenny, Buncrana and New Ross, as well as to businesses, utilities and individuals;

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? Adrian Dunne frequently lied and provided misleading information and his wife colluded with the stories;

? The family home they died in did not even have a cooker;

? They also had an idealised notion of the family “being together forever in heaven”.

? The couple were dreaming of a move to Liverpool, home of their favourite football team, at the time of tragedy.

The inquiry team concluded that Adrian was the “driving force” behind the planning and execution of the deaths of Ciara and their two children and there was “no third party involvement”.

They could not identify any “single definitive motive” behind the deaths and believe several factors contributed to the decision to end their lives and that of their children, “Important factors were the death of Adrian Dunne's father on April 9, 2006, and the recent death of his brother James by hanging on March 29, 2007.

Child-like nature

Other factors which may have played a part included Adrian's dominant personality and his wife's “docile, child-like nature”, making her very compliant and subservient to her husband's wishes.

They also pointed to his decision to isolate her from her family, mounting debts and the option of a move to Liverpool no longer seeming feasible.

Gardai, health workers and local priests were alerted when Mr Dunne was driven by his wife to a funeral directors 20 miles away in New Ross to make funeral arrangements for the couple and their two young children.

But the partial publication of the report of the Monageer Inquiry found that “even if gardai or social services had called to the Dunne family home during the course of the weekend, it is likely that the tragedy would not have been averted given Adrian and Ciara Dunnes' capacity to provide a plausible explanation for their bizarre funeral plans”.

The financial troubles for the family of four, existing on state benefits, were just part of the concealed tensions behind the “happy and contented facade” which may have conspired to drive Adrian to kill his wife and two daughters.

“From the early stages of their relationship they borrowed more than they could repay,” the report found. “Both were registered in ‘Stubbs Gazette’.”

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