Thursday 23 November 2017

'Leading up to Christmas, it doesn't bear thinking about' - Community in shock as police confirm murder-suicide

* Murder-suicide confirmed
* Post-mortem 'inconclusive'
* Community 'rattled' after news

Results of the post-mortems of Irish mother Sinéad Higgins and her seven-year-old son Oisín O’Driscoll are expected next week
Results of the post-mortems of Irish mother Sinéad Higgins and her seven-year-old son Oisín O’Driscoll are expected next week
Sinead Higgins with her son Oisin O'Driscoll
Sinéad Higgins with her son Oisín O'Driscoll
A property on The Fairway in Ruislip where the bodies of a woman and a boy were discovere. Photo credit: Ben Cawthra/LNP
Spider-Man curtains and a pair of small shoes hang in the window of a property on The Fairway in Ruislip where the bodies of a woman and a boy were discovered. Photo: Ben Cawthra/LNP

Allison Bray and Declan Rooney

Detectives investigating the deaths of an Irish mother and her son in West London are satisfied that their deaths are "consistent with a murder-suicide".

However post-mortem examinations on the bodies of Sinéad Higgins (38) and her son Oisín O'Driscoll (7) failed to establish the exact cause of death.

The pair were discovered dead at their home in Ruislip, West London on Wednesday after concerns were raised for their welfare.

In a statement, London's Metropolitan Police Service confirmed last night that an autopsy was carried out at Uxbridge Mortuary.

Sinéad Higgins with her son Oisín O'Driscoll
Sinéad Higgins with her son Oisín O'Driscoll

"Cause of deaths was inconclusive. Officers await further toxicology tests," the statement confirmed.

"Following the post-mortem examinations, detectives are satisfied that the deaths are consistent with a murder and a suicide.

Sinead Higgins. Picture: Twitter
Sinead Higgins. Picture: Twitter

"At this stage, nobody else is sought in connection with the two deaths."

Police forced their way into the home of Ms Higgins, who is originally from Westport, Co Mayo, shortly before 11am on Wednesday.

Flowers and a message left outside the house. Photo: Ben Cawthra/LNP
Flowers and a message left outside the house. Photo: Ben Cawthra/LNP

There they found the bodies of Ms Higgins and her son.

According to a neighbour, Ms Higgins had lived in the area for around two years after moving to the UK more than a decade ago to pursue a career in nursing.

She later retrained as a lawyer and was working for a medical insurance company as a legal adviser.

Prayers will be said at Mass this weekend for Ms Higgins and Oisín, along with others connected with the parish of Aughagower-Cushlough who have died over the past week, according to a spokesman for the Catholic Church.

Meanwhile, residents living in the Westport area were still reeling yesterday from the shocking news of the deaths.

Many people in the town expressed their condolences to Ms Higgins's mother Mary, who still lives in the area, and Sinéad's eight siblings, who live in various locations around the world.

Local county councillor Michael Holmes said the deaths were difficult to deal with and that their occurrence a week before Christmas only added to the grief.

"Leading up to Christmas, it doesn't bear thinking about," he said.

"For a mother to lose a daughter and a grandchild at a time when she would be hoping to buy presents for them. A seven-year-old child, it doesn't bear thinking about.

"But any time of the year to think a tragedy like this could fall on any family.

"All we can do is pray for them in the coming days and hopefully to try and lighten their burden somewhat."

"It's something that rattled us all to be honest.

"A tight-knit community like Aughagower, to have something like this to befall them. The whole community of Mayo is rattled."

Although Ms Higgins had been living away from home for several years, her family is well known and respected in the area and the community has consoled them in the past after they coped with a number of tragedies.

Her brother Cathal was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2004 when he was just 19.

A decade later, in 2014, her father Thomas (68), who was active in the local Fine Gael party as club chairman, died following a battle with cancer.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who knew Mr Higgins, said while he was on Government business in Brussels that he was stunned to hear the news of the deaths of Ms Higgins and her son.

He said:"When you know people so well, a tragedy like this, it leaves you in a state of understanding that people face difficulties that you might never contemplate."

If you have been affected by issues in this article, you can free-phone the Samaritans on 116 123. Pieta House can be contacted on 1800 247 247.  For more information on Pieta House and its services visit www.pieta.ie.

Irish Independent

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