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Friday 15 February 2019

Killer's mental health clue in murder of mother of six

Deirdre Keenan, left, with her daughter Linda
Deirdre Keenan, left, with her daughter Linda

Tom Brady, Luke Byrne and Barry Duggan

A FARMER who shot a mother of six and then turned the gun on himself had been suffering from depression in the run-up to the tragedy.

The anguished mental state of 53-year-old John Deegan emerged as a post-mortem confirmed that both he and Deirdre Keenan died from gunshot wounds to the head.

Investigating gardai also disclosed they were satisfied that Mr Deegan and his 51-year-old girlfriend had not died in a suicide pact.

Officers believe Ms Keenan, a mother of six, including triplets, had no idea of the looming danger as Mr Deegan hit her with a single blast from the shotgun.

The shootings happened at the Stonehaven B&B at Centaur Street in Carlow town on Monday morning.

It is understood that Mr Deegan had been on medication prescribed by a doctor during the past couple of months.

Last night gardai were trying to establish if the couple had a row shortly before their deaths and whether the shootings had been a "spur of the moment" incident. Gardai have established that he was the legal owner of the shotgun used in the tragedy.

Detectives were interviewing friends of Mr Deegan to determine if he was in the habit of bringing his shotgun with him when he was travelling.

He had brought the weapon with him while the couple were on a few days' break in Wexford and Carlow.

Gardai are also anxious to discover whether the couple had met while socialising, or had become friends on the internet.

The pair had separated from their spouses and, shortly after they met, agreed to set up home together in a newly purchased house at Lumcloon, Cloghan, near Birr, Co Offaly.

The couple decided last week to go away for a few days and spent Wednesday and Thursday night in the Wexford area.

On Friday they booked into another guesthouse in Carlow for the night and the following day opted to move to the Stonehaven for two nights.

When last seen alive, at around 1 o'clock on Monday morning in the Stonehaven pub, across the road from the guesthouse and owned by the same family, the couple were said by locals to have been in good form.

Regulars in the pub said the couple had been chatting with locals during the night and seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Gardai are now trying to find out what took place to spark off the shooting incident when they walked back to the guesthouse.

Mr Deegan shot Ms Keenan in an upstairs bedroom and then killed himself in a downstairs room.

The shotgun was found lying beside him when the two bodies were discovered around 1.30pm on Monday.


Inquiries have been extended to Co Wexford and to the Cloghan area in an effort to find out if the relationship had run into difficulties in the past couple of weeks.

Friends said that Mr Deegan did not appear to have any financial difficulties and had moved into the large two-storied house at Lumcloon less than three months ago, while his wife lived in the family home in Ballycumber, Co Offaly.

Deirdre Keenan split from her husband Charlie last September but many of her neighbours in the area where she grew up, Our Lady's Place in Naas, Co Kildare, were not aware they had separated until they heard news of her tragic death.

A detailed forensic examination of the Stonehaven guesthouse has also been carried out by members of the garda technical bureau. The shotgun has been undergoing ballistic tests.

The two bodies were removed from the guesthouse on Monday night and a post- mortem examination, carried out by deputy State pathologist, Dr Michael Curtis, confirmed yesterday that both died from gunshot wounds to the head.

Gardai last night appealed to anybody who noticed any unusual behaviour in the Centaur Street area between 10pm on Sunday and 1pm on Monday to contact them at Carlow garda station. And the investigating officers are also anxious to hear from anybody, who might have had contact with the couple in the Wexford area last week.

Irish Independent

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