Thursday 14 December 2017

Father tells of grief after two family members die in blaze

Ralph Riegel and David Forsythe

A FATHER who lost his daughter and grandson in a suspected petrol bomb attack last night spoke of his heartache at the loss of "two precious family members".

Joe O'Dwyer (55) told the Irish Independent that his family was devastated by the horrific events of Easter Sunday morning, which cost his daughter Helena (25) and her nephew Ryan (5) their lives.

Mr O'Dwyer also appealed to the public to help gardai bring the killer to justice.

"Helena was a lovely normal 25-year-old who was doing her best to rear her beloved daughter Courtney," he said.

"She adored her daughter, who from the moment she arrived brought love into all our lives. Ryan and Courtney (his cousin) were like twins. They did everything together."

Mr O'Dwyer and his wife, also Helena, told how Ryan and Courtney had helped them cope with a previous tragedy in their lives.

"They were both born around the time we lost our youngest son William in 2005 and they helped us cope with our grief at that time."

William died at the age of 14 when the car in which he was a back-seat passenger spun out of control and ploughed into trees off the Monahan Road in Cork on May 30, 2005.

"Ryan was an outgoing and happy five-year-old. He loved going to GAA matches and he always managed to come home with a sliotar. He had started school and loved it," Mr O'Dwyer said.

"Ryan used to come to our home every Friday and stay along with Courtney until Sunday. We have lost two precious members of our family and we are heartbroken.

"We want to appeal to people to assist the gardai in helping to bring Helena's and Ryan's killer to justice," he said. "Even the smallest piece of information can help."

It also emerged last night that Helena had been the target of threats and abuse over the past fortnight.


She was afraid to spend Easter alone at her Cork bungalow. Her parents insisted that she stay with them over the bank holiday weekend.

But less than 12 hours after she and Courtney moved into the family's Nutley Avenue home in Mahon it was petrol bombed.

Helena had even been attacked in her home last week -- and had also been subjected to verbal threats and intimidating phone calls.

Her distraught father and mother have now told gardai of the campaign of terror their daughter was subjected to.

Mr O'Dwyer, his wife Helena (49), daughter Dawn (22) and grandchildren William (4), Katelyn (2) and Courtney (5) narrowly escaped death after their three-bedroom terraced house erupted in flames.

Members of the family had spent a quiet Easter Saturday night together and were all in bed when their home in the quiet cul-de-sac of Nutley Avenue was attacked.

A petrol bomb was thrown against an outside window. The council house was immediately transformed into an inferno.

Mr O'Dwyer managed to get five family members out of the blazing house -- but was horrified to realise Helena and Ryan were trapped upstairs.

Helena had apparently ran into an upstairs bedroom to rescue Ryan, but was overcome by smoke and fumes before she could drag him to safety.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News