Friday 15 December 2017

The spectre of murder-suicide that continues to haunt rural Ireland

What turned Jonathan O'Driscoll into a killer? The real horror is that we'll never truly know, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

Jonathan O’Driscoll with his twin nine-year-old brothers Thomas ‘TomTom’ (left) and Patrick ‘Paddy'
Jonathan O’Driscoll with his twin nine-year-old brothers Thomas ‘TomTom’ (left) and Patrick ‘Paddy'
Heartbroken mum Helen O’Driscoll speaks to the media outside the inquest

Eilis O'Hanlon

One of the grimmest details to emerge from last week's inquest in Mallow, Co Cork, was that Jonathan O'Driscoll had Googled the words "murder in Charleville" before stabbing his two younger brothers to death. To do so now brings back pages detailing the 21-year-old's own crime, which ended the lives of twins Thomas and Patrick on September 4, last year, and which culminated in Jonathan's own suicide.

Back then, it would most likely have returned stories about Diane Ward, the 43-year-old mother who, whilst suffering from depression, smothered her young son Anthony the night before he was due to return to school. That killing happened in September, 2012, less than five minutes' drive from the house where the later tragedy was unfolding.

Like Jonathan O'Driscoll's parents, eight-year-old Anthony's father refused to condemn his wife, who'd twice been admitted to psychiatric hospital for treatment, describing her as "a good person who made a mistake". She'd taken an overdose that night and was worried that there'd be nobody to look after her son when she was dead. She later received a seven-year suspended sentence at the Central Criminal Court.

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