Monday 11 December 2017

One brother came running out of the house screaming: 'Jon killed my brothers'

It started out like any other September day. Thomas and Patrick O'Driscoll packed their bags and went to Banogue National School.

The summer holidays are just over and being back in the classroom with friends would have been a novelty. The nine-year-olds would have done their lessons, played in the yard and waited anxiously for the bell to ring.

They arrived back at the family bungalow on the outskirts of Charleville, and in the afternoon their parents, Thomas and Ellen, went shopping.

Neighbours say they would have brought home treats for the children. Instead that trip was interrupted by a phonecall that no parents could anticipate in their worst dreams.

At home, their twin boys, aged just nine, were dead. They had been the victims of a frenzied stab attack. Their lifeless bodies were discovered by two other siblings, aged three and five, in separate bedrooms.

Less than an hour later came news that another son, Jonathan (21) was also dead.

His body was found by children playing near a river 15km away from Charleville.

By that stage, gardai had sealed off the family bungalow near Deerpark and crowds had started to gather.

There were screams of anguish outside the house late last night as relatives and neighbours struggled to come to terms with the tragedy.

The boys' grandmother helplessly looked on at the once happy home where the family lived not able to comprehend what had happened.

Thomas Snr and Ellen were being comforted by other relatives.

Just minutes before the tragedy unfolded a close relative had chatted to Thomas O'Driscoll on the phone about a match.

"It was about 5.20pm when I heard about it. I couldn't believe it," he said. "I was talking to the boys' father just five minutes before that about a bet on a match."

He described how a neighbour raised the alarm after another brother came running out of the house screaming: "Jon killed my brothers."

The neighbour said the whole community was just shocked and trying to come to terms with the loss.

"They're all inside the house there and everyone is just so upset."

The O'Driscolls will need all the love and support that they can take from those neighbours and the wider community in the coming days as they try to grasp that horror that unfolded on this ordinary September day.

Irish Independent

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