Tuesday 23 January 2018

Man charged in connection with murder of young mum-of-two

A garda at the scene in Mayo where Sarah Staunton (inset) died
A garda at the scene in Mayo where Sarah Staunton (inset) died

A 22-year-old man has been charged in connection with the murder of Sarah Staunton in Mayo at the weekend.

He is expected to appear before a special sitting of Ballina District Court a 3.30 pm today.

Gardai had launched a murder inquiry into the death of the young mother who was found dead in her remote home.

Sara Staunton (28) -- originally from Dublin but living in Mayo Abbey, Co Mayo -- was found dead at her home at midday on Saturday.

The mum of a 12-year-old boy and 10-year-old girl was the victim of a serious assault.

The alarm was raised by her partner, who discovered Ms Staunton inside the doorway of the house. He called the ambulance service, who then alerted gardai.

Following a post-mortem examination at Mayo General Hospital, gardai upgraded their investigation to one of murder. However, officers would not reveal details of the post-mortem for operational reasons.

A garda forensics team carried out an investigation of the house, where the large front window had been broken. A 22-year-old man, who was arrested in the Castlebar area on Saturday night, remains in custody at Castlebar garda station, where he is still being questioned under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.

Gardai are now taking statements from a number of others who were present at the remote house on Friday night.

Locals in the rural Mayo village told of their shock following the death of the young mum of two in suspicious circumstances. "We'd rarely see them in the village. The kids were in Claremorris with their dad but you'd see Sara from time to time.

"It's a terrible shock for everyone that this could happen here," said one local man.

Balla priest Fr Denis Carney said he had not known the family personally but that the entire community sympathised with them in their time of need.

"It's very sad for the children, who should be looking forward to Christmas and instead have to deal with this," he said.

Some locals called to the scene, where they laid pink roses in memory of Ms Staunton. Her two young children live with their father, Ms Staunton's former partner, in Claremorris.

Local Fine Gael councillor Cyril Burke said the rural Mayo community was shocked as news of the tragedy spread.

Ms Staunton was originally from Clondalkin, but had moved with her parents and brother Simon to Mayo Abbey outside the town of Balla, Co Mayo, about 15 years ago as part of a rural resettlement programme.

Ms Staunton had attended school in Claremorris and later moved to the town for a number of years, where she had two children with her then partner.

After the breakdown of that relationship, Ms Staunton returned to the family home at Mayo Abbey. Her parents no longer live at the address.

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