Saturday 20 January 2018

Teen held as woman found dead at home

Susan Dunne (53)
Susan Dunne (53)
The body of Susan Dunne being removed in a hearse from Ballinageragh, Lixnaw, Co Kerry

NEIGHBOURS of a mother who died after suffering "catastrophic" injuries raised the alarm after spotting her car being driven by another person.

Susan Dunne (53) died at her rural council house in Ballinageragh, Lixnaw in north Kerry after being attacked with a hatchet. An investigation into the death is expected to be upgraded to murder today, as a 19-year-old man arrested in Listowel yesterday afternoon remains in garda custody.

Ms Dunne, who was originally from England, was found dead in a bedroom at the house by neighbours yesterday morning.

They became suspicious when her car was seen being driven from her home to the village by another person.

Neighbours then entered the house and made the grim discovery at around 9.30am and raised the alarm.

They found Ms Dunne lying in a bed with very obvious head injuries.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Gardai sealed off the house and yard for an examination by the Garda Forensic Unit.

A short time afterwards, gardai arrested a man in Listowel, about 12km away. He is being detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster conducted a preliminary investigation of the scene last night, before Ms Dunne's remains were removed to Kerry General Hospital for a post-mortem examination.

Parish priest, Fr Maurice Brick, who administered last rites at lunchtime yesterday, said the local community had been deeply traumatised by the killing.

Fr Brick said neighbours "huddled" together, deeply traumatised and trying to make sense of events.

Ms Dunne and her son Patrick had moved to the rural area about 2km outside the village of Lixnaw two years ago but apart from her immediate neighbours, she was not well known in the area.

However, she was very well known within Autism Ireland circles and was a passionate advocate for the rights of children with disabilities.

She was the chairperson of the Kerry branch, and last night had been due to attend a meeting of the steering committee that was pushing for an autism unit for children at Kerry Community College.

Domnick Walsh who worked closely with Ms Dunne on the committee, described her as a "tireless campaigner" for children with disabilities.

"Susan was everyone's 'go to' woman. If anyone was in dire straits and could not find help anywhere, Susan was the one they turned to for advice," he said.

Fr Brick said she was both the "soulmate and minder" of her son.

"They kept very much to themselves but when she needed support, her neighbours were always there for her and they're absolutely traumatised by the events," Fr Brick said.

"We all have a mother and we know how we feel about our mothers so people are devastated, the women in particular, and it's very sad.


"She was always there with her boy. They were very close and she was his soulmate and his minder.

"She was his minder and his carer and that obviously adds to the pathos of the moment in time.

"People who were important to her were her immediate neighbours who helped her out in the house."

It was the third tragedy associated with the bungalow. In 1990 a local man died from smoke inhalation at the house.

There was further tragedy a number of years later when a man who was living in the house at the time died by suicide.

Last night at Mass in Lixnaw, Fr Brick called for prayers for the tragic family but said people would pull together and be there for each other.

"We sometimes wonder why things happen, but we are fallible and depend on a higher power to help us out in situations and this is one of those," he said.

Anyone with information or who may have seen any unusual activity around Ballinageragh, are asked to contact the gardai in Listowel on 068 50820, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any garda station.


Majella O'Sullivan

Irish Independent

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