Father freed from jail to visit wife and son after fire tragedy
THE father of a toddler who perished in a house fire was at the bedside of the boy's mother and brother last night, after being given compassionate release from prison.
Ricky Punch is serving a four-year custodial sentence in Cork Prison, but was allowed to be with his family at Cork University Hospital (CUH).
Stacey Ellard and her oldest son Calvin (4) were both in a critical condition but were said to be showing slight signs of improvement last night.
Ms Ellard still does not know that the terrible blaze that consumed the family home in Elm Park, Wilton, Cork, on Sunday morning claimed the life of her youngest son Cian (2).
The family should have been out trick-or-treating in their estate last night, and Ms Ellard had already purchased fancy dress costumes for her young boys.
Instead, the family was keeping a desperate vigil as they mourned the death of Cian.
Also waiting for news in CUH's Intensive Care Unit (ICU) was Stacey's mother and father, Denis and Ann, along with her sisters Charlotte and Karen and brother Wayne.
Garda fire scene investigators said last night that they were not treating the fire as suspicious and that it was a tragic accident.
Cian was found in his mother's bed with his brother by Cork firefighters, who were called to the house just after 4am on Sunday.
Despite the best efforts of Cork Fire Brigade and medics to resuscitate him, Cian was pronounced dead on arrival at CUH.
A post-mortem examination was taking place at the hospital yesterday evening.
Fianna Fail leader and local TD Micheal Martin said that his sympathies were with the Ellard family.
"I want to offer my deepest condolences to the family struck by this unspeakable tragedy. My prayers are with those being treated in hospital.
"This is an extremely difficult time for the family, friends and neighbours of those affected by this tragedy and my thoughts are with them at this time," he added.