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Mum and dad dead and daughter fights for life in family stab horror

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A SIXTEEN-year-old girl discovered her parents dead and her older sister bleeding from multiple wounds in a frenzied triple stabbing after an apparent murder-suicide.

Sarah Greaney made the shocking discovery at the family home in Cobh, Co Cork.

Her parents Michael (53) and Valerie (49) died at the scene and her older sister, Michelle (23) was bleeding profusely from stab wounds to the chest and desperately trying to reach the front door.

Michelle was last night fighting for her life in Cork University Hospital (CUH) after paramedics worked for 30 minutes to stabilise her outside the family home at O'Neill's Place.

The young woman, who had just graduated from college last year, was described as being in a critical but stable condition.

However, the girls' parents, Michael (53) and Valerie (49), were pronounced dead before they could be transferred to hospital. Both died from multiple stab wounds in what sources indicated was a frenzied attack shortly after 3pm yesterday.

It emerged last night that Michael Greaney, who ran a Cobh physiotherapy practice, appeared before the courts last year on a charge of false imprisonment and assault.

The father of two had a history of mental health problems over recent years and had previously attempted to self-harm.

He was found guilty but insane of both the false imprisonment and assault charges against a woman in 2013.

Mr Greaney was referred to the Central Mental Hospital for treatment.

His wife, Valerie, pleaded on his behalf in court asking that he avoid a custodial sentence, saying he had been under tremendous financial and psychological pressure at the time.

The physiotherapist, who comes from a highly respected Cobh family, was suffering from depression, stress and insomnia at the time as well as suicidal tendencies.

In addressing the court, Mr Greaney spoke of his remorse over the attack in which he attempted to smother the woman by stuffing a rag into her mouth.

Seconds after the attack, in which the woman managed to struggle free, he attempted to slash his artery using a Stanley knife.

Speaking to the court last year, Mr Greaney said his business had struggled following the Celtic Tiger collapse and had got into severe financial difficulties.

At one point, he persuaded his wife, Valerie, to put up the deed of the family home to support the business in which they both worked.

STRUGGLED

The threat of losing the family home had caused him terrible emotional turmoil.

"This broke me physically and mentally," he said.

"I lost control. I felt so ashamed. It was not me doing this. I let her go ... a few seconds more and (she) could have died."

"I knew I was a danger and I had to stop it. I grabbed a bread knife to put in my heart but I couldn't. I took a Stanley knife to cut an artery and kill myself," he told the court.

Cobh gardai said they are not looking for anyone else in connection with yesterday's triple stabbing.

The Greaney family home remained sealed off as technical officers conducted a detailed examination. A knife was recovered at the scene.

Sara Greaney was being comforted by family and friends including her aunt, Hylda.

Michelle's boyfriend, a Defence Forces soldier, was informed of the tragedy and was travelling to maintain a vigil by her CUH bedside last night.

Family friend Darragh McGann, who attended the scene to offer what support he could, said the entire community was heartbroken.

"The sympathies and prayers of the entire Cobh community go out to the Greaney family at this terrible time. It is just so, so sad," he said.

Valerie Greaney had lost her mother less than two months ago. The mother of two was tentatively making plans to celebrate her 50th birthday early next year.

"Michael and Valerie are so well known and so respected around Cobh. It is almost too terrible to believe," one elderly neighbour said.

Mr Greaney was a high-profile figure around Cobh, serving as a Minister of the Eucharist at St Colman's Cathedral.

One local said Mr Greaney seemed "in very good form" as he helped at Communion at Christmas Day Mass.

"I knew the poor man had his problems over the past couple of years but he certainly seemed cheerful enough over Christmas."

Valerie was described as "utterly devoted" to her family. She had worked with her husband in the physiotherapy business but also had recently worked in a local restaurant.

A neighbour, who asked not to be named, said news of the tragedy spread when people attending family graves in Cobh cemetery for the New Year, located directly across the road from the Greaney family home, suddenly spotted garda cars and ambulances racing to the scene.

Shadow

"It was absolutely appalling - no-one could believe what had happened. There are two long-standing and highly respected Cobh families involved in this and it has cast a black shadow over the New Year.

"The awful part is that people here still remember the shock over the O'Grady's who died in a similar tragedy about 20 years ago."

Niall and Veronica O'Grady were discovered fatally stabbed in their Rushbrooke home in July 1991 after a neighbour received a call asking that their children be looked after. The couple's three children were found unharmed in the sitting-room.

hnews@herald.ie


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