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Wednesday 17 October 2018

Fears children drugged before blaze

Julie and Mark Flood may have been drugged as gardai confirm they were not killed by the fire in their home
Julie and Mark Flood may have been drugged as gardai confirm they were not killed by the fire in their home
Diarmuid and Lorraine Flood
Schoolchildren walk past the shell of the house in Clonroche, Co Wexford, as gardai remain on the scene for further investigation

Shane Phelan Investigative Correspondent

THE two young children who died in the Clonroche tragedy may have been drugged and were already dead before their home was set on fire.

Gardai last night confirmed that six-year-old Mark Flood and his little sister Julie (5) had no signs of physical trauma on their bodies and did not die as a result of the fire which engulfed their Co Wexford home.

Officers said one theory being explored was that they had been given some sort of sedative drug and it could be several days before toxicology tests confirm the cause of death.

Post-mortem results released last night confirmed the children's mother, Lorraine (38), suffered a single gunshot wound to the chest as she lay in bed.

Her husband Diarmuid (41), alongside whose body a shotgun was found in a downstairs room, had a single and, most likely self-inflicted, gunshot wound to the head.

Confirmation of the traumatic injuries came as relatives of Lorraine said last night that all four victims of the tragedy will be buried in the same plot following a joint funeral in their hometown of Clonroche, near Enniscorthy.

Evidence also emerged yesterday that the murders of Lorraine and the two children may not have been fully premeditated.

Officers are still trying to identify a firm motive behind the tragedy and Supt Kevin Donohue confirmed last night the family had made plans for the weekend and the following days.

He also confirmed that no note or letter has been found in the ruins of their home.

Although the children's bodies were partially damaged in the fire, Supt Donohue said gardai were satisfied the fire wasn't the cause of their deaths.

"There is no evidence of physical trauma on either of the children, but the precise cause of death has not yet been determined," he said.

He added: "Julie and Lorraine suffered very little fire-related injuries."

Ballistics tests have yet to confirm that the shotgun found was the one which inflicted the wounds on Mr and Mrs Flood.

Supt Donohue also said that initial information that young Mark's body had been found on a landing was incorrect, and that he was actually found in his bedroom adjacent to the landing on the remnants of his bed.

He confirmed the last sighting of the family was around teatime on Friday evening and that a phone call was made from the house a few hours later.

However, he said reports that a phone call had been made by Diarmuid Flood around 5am the next morning, when the fire started, were untrue.

Meanwhile, Lorraine's uncle, Denis Kennedy, last night told the Irish Independent that the families of Diarmuid and Lorraine, nee Kehoe, were "united in their grief" and had their "lives shattered by this tragedy".

He said there was "absolutely" no question of separate funerals or burials.

The decision to mourn all four victims of the tragedy together comes in contrast to the separate funerals which followed the murder-suicide tragedy in nearby Monageer almost exactly a year ago.

Adrian Dunne, who murdered his wife Ciara and their two children, was buried at Boolavogue, Co Wexford, while the rest of the family were buried in Burt, Co Donegal, in compliance with the wishes of Ciara's parents.

The funeral service for the Flood family is now set to take place in the coming days at St Clement's Church in Clonroche.

Tragedy

Mr Kennedy said Flood and Kehoe families still had "no idea" what sparked the tragedy and had always thought of Diarmuid and Lorraine as "a model couple" with no major problems.

Garda liaison officers have been appointed to both the Flood and Kehoe families to keep them informed of developments in the investigation.

A further 50 gardai are involved in the investigation and detectives seeking to establish a motive for the murder-suicide have begun an intensive trawl of the couple's background.

Yesterday they began formal interviews with family and friends. They have also sought access to the couple's medical records.

Following inquiries into their financial history, gardai believe they can most likely rule out debts or other money issues as a motive for the tragedy.

Informed sources said conflicting information had emerged which had made it difficult to come up with "a neat explanation" for what triggered the tragedy.

Although Mr Flood is understood to have procured a number of shotgun cartridges in the fortnight before the tragedy he was also planning for the future of his water pump business and had recently ordered building supplies. It is also understood Mr Flood had made arrangements to have his car serviced.

The shotgun found beside Mr Flood's body had been given to him some years ago by a relative who retained the licence for it. The relative has been assisting gardai with their inquiries and has made a statement.

Gardai maintain that people who may know what triggered the tragic events have yet to come forward.

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