GSOC to review Cork double murder-suicide over call
THE Garda Síochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) is to review a Cork double murder-suicide after it emerged at least one of the brothers involved had contact with Gardaí in the hours before the horrific triple tragedy.
The contact – in the form of a phone call on Thursday evening – involved the brothers assuring Mitchelstown Gardaí that a disagreement was being amicably resolved and there was no need for uniformed officers to attend the 25 acre family farm at Corragorm some 8km from the north Cork town.
Following the conversation, Gardaí were satisfied that concerns brought to their attention by another individual did not warrant sending a patrol car to the property.
It is understood that at no stage were fears raised with Gardaí that any brother was under threat or that there was any suggestion of violence being involved in the family disagreement.
However, several hours later, the bodies of Willie (66) and Paddy ‘Pa’ Hennessy (60) were discovered at the farm after a relative called to ensure everything was alright amid concern that Pa had not returned to his Mitchelstown home.
A third brother, Johnny Hennessy (59), was later recovered from the River Funshion.
A GSOC spokesperson confirmed they are now reviewing the matter.
“GSOC received a referral on Friday from a Garda Superintendent related to possible contact between An Garda Síochána and one of the deceased prior to the incident,” they said.
“The referral was made under Section 102 of the Garda Síochána Act, 2005. The matter is now under examination by GSOC.”
Pa was found with severe head injuries in the farmyard where the brothers operated a firewood business and raised dry cattle.
Willie was found with similar severe head injuries in a nearby shed.
Both had suffered blunt force trauma injuries to the head after being struck repeatedly with an axe. The two brothers were pronounced dead at the scene.
A third brother, Johnny (59), who lived at the farmhouse, was not present and his car was missing.
His Toyota Corolla van was found parked near Killacluig Church, some 4km away, on Friday morning.
After a major manhunt involving Garda search teams, the Garda dog unit, the Garda helicopter and the Garda water unit, his body was located at lunchtime a short distance away in the River Funshion.
The three brothers were nicknamed ‘The Saints’ locally – and had lost another brother, Jer, to a family tragedy in 2014.
A nephew had also died in tragic circumstances in 2012.
Post mortem examinations were conducted on all three brothers over the weekend at Cork University Hospital (CUH) by Locum State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster.
The findings are being withheld for operational reasons but it is understood Willie and Pa died from multiple blunt force trauma injuries to the head consistent with blows from a heavy axe.
A blood-stained axe was found a short distance from where the first two bodies were discovered.
Johnny is believed to have died from drowning.
Gardaí now believe the tragedy was linked to a land and farm income dispute.
Pa suffered a stroke before Christmas and had been unable to either work the small dry cattle holding or his normal firewood delivery route.
He had also been forced to pause his 30-year career in the tyre business.
On his recovery, he wanted to return to his normal work routine with the family farm.
Neighbours described him as an incredibly hard-working man who had been employed since his teens.
His wish was apparently supported by his older brother, Willie.
However, it is understood that Johnny was opposed – and maintained that the farm income should be divided on the basis of those who engaged in the work.
Pa’s firewood route is also believed to have been the most lucrative of those operated by the brothers.
One local source said that Johnny also opposed any question of splitting the proceeds from cattle sales three ways.
The phone call to Gardaí from a concerned third party apparently followed the disagreement over the family farm income and concerns over the attitude adopted by Johnny.
Gardaí are now investigating whether Johnny Hennessy may have been overwrought from financial stress, rural isolation and the impact of the Covid-19 Level 5 lockdown before he attacked his brothers Willie and Pa.
Mental health issues are also being investigated as a possible contributing factor.