Monday 18 December 2017

Brother and sister killed in deliberate fire laid to rest

Bridget Sharkey and 21-year-old brother Thomas, who both died in a blaze at their family home. Photo: PA
Bridget Sharkey and 21-year-old brother Thomas, who both died in a blaze at their family home. Photo: PA

Cordelia O'Neill

HUNDREDS of mourners gathered today to pay their respects to a brother and sister murdered in a deliberate fire at their home.

The funeral of Thomas Sharkey, 21, and his younger sister Bridget, eight, took place in their home town of Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute.

Thomas Sharkey died in the fire started at the family's flat in Scott Court, Helensburgh, in the early hours of Sunday July 24.

His sister Bridget died on the way to Royal Alexandra hospital in Paisley.

Six days later their father, Thomas Sharkey Snr, 55, died at Glasgow Royal Infirmary of pneumonia caused by breathing in smoke.

Mr Sharkey's wife, Angela, 46, was critically injured in the fire and remained in hospital before learning of her family's deaths on August 4.

More than 300 mourners attended a Requiem Mass for the pair at St Joseph's Church in Helensburgh. A private burial was taking place later at Helensburgh Cemetery.

They included the children's mother Angela and her sister Margaret McKechnie, 56.

The order of service said it was a "celebration of the lives of our precious Thomas Keith Sharkey and Bridget Margaret Sharkey".

Inside it said: "Angela welcomes you to this service of celebration and thanksgiving for the lives of her darling children Thomas and Bridget.

"Angela and her family would like to express their sincere and grateful thanks to you for all the cards, flowers and many messages of comfort received since Thomas and Bridget went to the magic kingdom in the sky."

The family chose hymns including Dear St Joseph, Be Still and Know That I Am With You, As I Kneel Before You and I Watch The Sunrise, which were sung and performed by the parish choir and the orchestral choir from Our Lady and St Patrick's Church, Dumbarton, where Thomas was a pupil.

Police said the Sharkey family has asked "that their privacy be respected at this very sad time".

The children's coffins arrived in the same hearse and were carried into the church one after the other.

A large crowd of mourners stood outside the church as there was not enough room inside, with police estimating about 600 people attended in total.

The service was led by Father Peter Lennon.

Ann Chalmers, headteacher of St Joseph's primary school, where Bridget was a pupil, gave one eulogy while a friend of Thomas junior gave another.

After the service, the coffins were carried out and placed in the same hearse again.

Family members hugged each other for support outside the church before getting into the funeral cars.

Another hearse filled with flowers led the funeral cortege as it made its way to the cemetery.

One floral display spelled out the word "Why" in white blooms.

A crowd of mourners walked behind the two hearses as they made their way slowly through the town to the cemetery for the private burial.

A humanist ceremony in memory of Mr Sharkey senior will be held on Monday.

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