A YOUNG mother, who died in a double tragedy, had been due to attend court yesterday seeking custody of her children to bring them home to South Africa.
Angelique Billing (27), known as Angie to her friends, had tried to leave the country with her daughters just two weeks ago.
On Wednesday night, Cornelius Billing (27) died from a stab wound to the neck in their apartment in Kildysart, Co Clare.
The mother, with one of her daughters, staggered out onto the street from her home where emergency workers were tending to the scene of a shop fire.
She collapsed on a footpath where she died after suffering several stab wounds to her face, head and body.
Her husband died inside the apartment despite the best efforts of gardai and firemen.
It is understood that the couple's two young children witnessed the violent incident in which both of their parents were fatally stabbed.
Post mortem examinations were carried out on the couple yesterday. A blood forensic scientist is attempting to establish blood patterns.
One of the children told a neighbour how "Daddy hurt Mammy". The young girls are now being cared for by neighbours. A social worker has been provided to assist the children.
Gardai are continuing to probe the exact circumstances which led to the double tragedy, but it is still not established how the attack began.
The Herald has learned that Angie travelled to Dublin Airport along with her daughters Pamela (4) and Cornie (2) to fly home to South Africa earlier this month, according to friends.
However, she was prevented from leaving the country after her husband, Cornelius, reported the children as missing.
The young mother, who was living in the country illegally, had presented herself to authorities in the hopes of being deported.
"She did this without telling him and she got as far as Dublin Airport, but Cornelius said the kids had been taken and she was turned back at the airport," a friend told the Herald.
Angie had been due to attend court in Ennis yesterday where she hoped to secure a custody order to bring the girls abroad.
Friends of the young woman revealed how gardai had been alerted to their concerns on two occasions.
"She called me in hysterics saying the kids had been taken. We called the gardai but they said the children were with their father and there was nothing they could do," the friend added.
Mr Billing returned to the couple's flat with the children just one day before the tragic incident unfolded.
"All she wanted to do was to go back to her mother and step-father. I tried to get her out of the house but she wouldn't leave the kids. She texted me on the day it happened saying she couldn't leave until the following day.
"I went to the shops and when I saw the fire brigade my heart stopped. I immediately feared something was wrong with Angie. But then I saw Cornelius looking out the window. I don't know what happened then, I think he panicked.
"This parish was also a huge help to her and her girls but this country failed her and her family. The legal system and authorities let her down," they added.
The families of both victims have also been informed of the tragedy. Ms Billing's mother and step-father live in South Africa while Mr Billing has a sister living in Clare with her husband and children.