Friday 23 February 2018

Wife will wake murder-suicide husband and brother together

Eimear Ni Bhraonain and Tom Brady

THE heartbroken wife of a man who shot his brother-in-law dead before he hanged himself will wake the two men's bodies side-by-side.

Grief-stricken Hilda Jordan was making funeral arrangements yesterday for her husband Michael Jordan (51) and her brother, George Rothwell (71).

Both men had been involved in a dramatic exchange of gunfire after a disagreement over farmland before Mr Rothwell was shot in the upper body at his home at Ballycormac near Bagenalstown, Co Carlow.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis conducted post-mortem examinations on the bodies of the two men yesterday.

The examinations revealed Mr Rothwell had been shot at least four times -- one of the gunshot wounds to his upper body was fatal.

Mr Jordan received no gunshot wounds but died from asphyxiation due to hanging.

It is thought that Mr Rothwell tried to defend himself by firing back at his brother-in-law. Ballistic experts are resuming their investigations at Ballycormac House today.

A firearm was recovered by gardai shortly after they discovered Mr Rothwell's body in the living area of his home early on Wednesday morning.

Emergency services had been alerted to trouble at the large farm belonging to George Rothwell after a neighbour called 999 when he saw plumes of smoke coming from sheds at the side of the property.


Meanwhile, a second shotgun was uncovered by garda divisional search teams yesterday on land close to where Mr Jordan's body was found at the rear of the bungalow where he lived with his wife, Hilda.

Supt Gerry Redmond, who is leading the probe, said the scene of Mr Rothwell's and Mr Jordan's homes were both being preserved last night as detectives continued their work.

"We have ongoing ballistics investigations and they're very interested in where Mr Rothwell's body was found; there is still examination to be done," he said.

Supt Redmond appealed to the farming community to help gardai as they conduct house-to-house enquiries about the brutal deaths.

Gardai combed ditches and fields in Ballycormac from first light yesterday before the second shotgun was located. It was being photographed and forensically examined last night to determine if it had been used in the shooting.

Mr Rothwell and Mr Jordan were both licensed to own firearms.

Ballistic experts are still probing exactly what happened before Mr Rothwell's death. however, early indications point to shots being exchanged. Cartridges were also found in Mr Jordan's pockets.

Mr Jordan had suffered from severe depression in recent years and had attempted to take his own life before.

Senior churchmen from the Catholic and Protestant communities called to Hilda Jordan yesterday at her first cousin's home, where she has been staying.

They comforted the widow on the tragic deaths of her husband and brother. They also began preparing funeral arrangements for the weekend.

A friend of the family praised the strength shown by Mrs Jordan, who has decided to wake the two men's bodies together in the same room.

"It's so sad but they were two men she loved and she will be waking them together," he said.

It's understood they will be buried after separate services on Saturday for Mr Jordan at 11am in the local Catholic Church and at 2pm for Mr Rothwell at Lorum Church.

Mr Rothwell was a member of the Church of Ireland, while Mr Jordan was a Catholic and regular mass-goer.

Funeral arrangements are not yet final, as the bodies of the men were not released to the family last night.

It may be late tomorrow or Saturday before the bodies are returned to Mrs Jordan. Gardai are liaising with the family about these details.

Tributes continued to pour in for the two farmers yesterday who were well-known throughout Co Carlow.

Tom Kinsella, who shore sheep for George Rothwell for 21 years, said he was a "relaxed" and "laid-back" man.

Mr Kinsella said Mr Rothwell had played music at his wedding.

"He was an excellent sheep breeder and so was Michael Jordan," Mr Kinsella added.

Irish Independent

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