‘Daddy, we can get you help, just don’t do it’

MAN TO BE SEN­TENCED NEXT WEEK AF­TER AT­TEMPT­ING TO MUR­DER FOUR CHIL­DREN

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - NEWS -

A CHILD told his fa­ther ‘Daddy we can get you help, just don’t do it’ as the man at­tempted to mur­der him and his three sib­lings, the Cen­tral Crim­i­nal Court heard on Mon­day evening.

The man pleaded guilty to the at­tempted mur­der of his four young chil­dren and will be sen­tenced next week.

The fa­ther, who can­not be named, ad­mit­ted to four counts of at­tempted mur­der at his fam­ily home in the south-east of the coun­try in 2016. The man’s re­la­tion­ship with his wife had bro­ken down and there had been ‘un­happy dif­fer­ences’ be­tween them which seemed to af­fect him badly.

The man, who has a his­tory of de­pres­sion, at­tempted to stran­gle two of his chil­dren and left them when he thought they were dead be­fore mov­ing onto the other two chil­dren in the next bed­room.

He told gar­dai he was tex­ting his wife and she had sent him a text mes­sage say­ing it was ‘time to stop cry­ing’ and to tell the chil­dren ‘what he wanted’.

Mr Jus­tice Michael White made a court order on Mon­day that the fa­ther and his chil­dren could not be named nor any ev­i­dence pub­lished which would lead to the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the fam­ily.

At Mon­day’s sen­tence hear­ing, De­tec­tive Garda Fer­gus O’Brien sum­ma­rized the facts of the case.

Det O’Brien agreed with pros­e­cut­ing coun­sel, Paul Burns SC, that the de­fen­dant was liv­ing with his wife and four chil­dren in the south-east of the coun­try when the event oc­curred.

The man was mind­ing his four chil­dren for the evening as his wife was go­ing out for the night. Ac­cord­ing to Det Gda O’Brien, the de­fen­dant’s fa­ther was in a nearby house when his son ar­rived at the house at 7.20 p.m. say­ing: ‘I hurt the kids, I’ve done some­thing stupid to the kids.’

The grand­fa­ther ran over to his son’s house and saw two of the chil­dren in a ‘pan­icked state’ in the drive­way. The grand­fa­ther found the other two chil­dren on their backs in the main bed­room, one was cry­ing and the other was un­con­scious. He con­tacted the emer­gency ser­vices and man­aged to re­vive one of the chil­dren. Gar­daí ar­rived on the scene shortly af­ter­wards and an am­bu­lance was sent to the house.

Det Gda O’Brien said that two of the chil­dren had red marks on their necks.

The other two chil­dren were treated with oxy­gen by paramedics in their bed­room and one of these was in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion. They were later ac­com­pa­nied by their mother to the hos­pi­tal.

The fa­ther-of-four was lo­cated by gar­daí and he was asked a num­ber of ques­tions. He told gar­daí he was plan­ning on killing him­self when he found out his wife was go­ing on a date that evening and he did not want his chil­dren up­set that he had taken his life. ‘I thought if I killed them they wouldn’t be up­set. I thought I had to do it,’ he said.

The man said when he went to stran­gle two of his chil­dren, they looked at him and asked him what he was do­ing. He told gar­daí he had a his­tory of de­pres­sion and had been di­ag­nosed with so­cial anx­i­ety. Det Gda O’Brien agreed with coun­sel that the man told gar­daí he was try­ing to kill his chil­dren, say­ing ‘I didn’t mean to do it, I thought it would make them hap­pier.’

The man was ar­rested and a num­ber of garda in­ter­views were con­ducted with him. He told gar­daí dur­ing his in­ter­views that he was up­set as his wife was go­ing on a date with an­other man who she had been tex­ting. ‘I thought the mar­riage was good, any­time she wanted to go I let her go out,’ he added.

The de­fen­dant said he had been cry­ing that evening in his house and his chil­dren were wor­ried about him. He told gar­daí he was tex­ting his wife and she had sent him a text mes­sage say­ing it was ‘time to stop cry­ing’ and to tell the chil­dren ‘what he wanted’.

He said he started tick­ling two of his chil­dren in their bed­room and then his hands be­gan to ‘stran­gle’ them as he pressed down on their neck with his thumb. ‘I kept go­ing un­til they were dead and I kissed both of them of the fore­heads and left them where they were,’ he said.

Two other chil­dren were play­ing Xbox in their bed­room, the man told gar­daí, and they did not know what had just hap­pened. The man then put his hand up against them at the same time. The man said to them that it was their mammy’s fault and one of them replied: “‘Daddy, we can get you help, just don’t do it.’

The court heard he did not have the en­ergy to ‘hold any longer’ on their necks and he left them go be­fore get­ting help from his fa­ther. He had con­tem­plated killing his chil­dren and his wife six years ago, the court heard.

When asked by gar­daí if he was reck­less tak­ing his med­i­ca­tion, he said he had been with­out tablets for a few days and was now only tak­ing one a day.

The man said he in­tended to kill him­self af­ter tak­ing the lives of his chil­dren, adding ‘then we would all be free’. He also told gar­daí he was go­ing to stab him­self re­peat­edly and the rea­son this hap­pened was be­cause he got a text from his wife say­ing it was time to stop cry­ing and there was no point ‘let­ting it all hit you now’. He replied say­ing: ‘See you re­ally don’t care about any­one but your­self, you will re­gret all of this.’

A med­i­cal re­port was read to the court in which the doc­tor said the four chil­dren’s in­juries were con­sis­tent with a se­ri­ous as­sault by their fa­ther and there was clear med­i­cal ev­i­dence of an at­tempted stran­gu­la­tion by him.

A psy­chi­atric re­port was also read to the court in which it said the chil­dren had suf­fered se­vere trauma that night and they had lost their safe en­vi­ron­ment. Their world had been turned up­side down overnight, Mr Burns read, and things would never be the same again.

De­fence coun­sel Pa­trick Gageby SC said his client had a ten­dency to stay at home and was not good about go­ing out which was pos­si­bly re­lated to ‘some class of de­pres­sion’.

Un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion by Mr Gageby, Det Sgt O’Brien agreed that both par­ents were ex­tremely at­ten­tive par­ents with happy and ac­tive chil­dren. The bar­ris­ter said the man was an ex­cel­lent fa­ther and peo­ple spoke well of how the chil­dren had turned out. His wife, he said, had never made any com­plaint of him rais­ing his hand to her or the chil­dren.

Mr Gageby said his client got de­pres­sion in 2009 and got help in a lo­cal hos­pi­tal which had a psy­chi­atric as­pect to it. Det Gda O’Brien agreed with coun­sel that he was pre­scribed med­i­ca­tion to deal with the de­pres­sion which he had re­duced lead­ing up to this event.

It was quite clear he be­lieved he had killed two of his chil­dren but soon came to his senses, the court heard, as his hands started to hurt him and he was not able to com­plete what he set out to do. The de­fence of in­san­ity was not avail­able to his client, Mr Gageby added.

The mother-of-four took the stand and read a vic­tim im­pact state­ment on be­half of her and the four chil­dren in which she de­scribed how their lives had changed.

The chil­dren’s mother told the court she will never for­get re­ceiv­ing a ‘hor­ri­ble voice­mail’ from her el­dest child scream­ing and a Snapchat from them of one of her other chil­dren on the bed. ‘I knew in my gut some­thing crazy had hap­pened,’ she said.

She said the hard­est part af­ter the event was watch­ing her son, once a bub­bly boy, wear­ing sun­glasses in the house as his eyes were very bruised.

She said they were the bravest chil­dren one could ever meet and she was so proud of them all.

‘All the chil­dren know what is hap­pen­ing here to­day, they all know their daddy did wrong. They know you have to say sorry when you do wrong and one has to be pun­ished,’ she said.

The woman said she was happy that her ex-hus­band had not put her through a trial and she hoped that some­time he could say sorry ‘in his own words’ to their chil­dren. ‘I’m ready to move on, stop look­ing over my shoul­der, stop liv­ing in fear and lock­ing the door,’ she said.

Mr Gageby then read a let­ter of apol­ogy on be­half of his client in which he said: ‘Any­thing I say or do will not change what I’ve done or make it bet­ter, I want you to know how much I re­gret it and how sorry I am for putting my four beau­ti­ful chil­dren through this. The proud­est mo­ment of my life was the birth of my kids and they still con­tinue to make me proud ev­ery day.’

In his submissions, Mr Gageby said there was a back­ground of men­tal health, a re­duc­tion in med­i­ca­tion and as well as a mar­tial break-up.

Mit­i­gat­ing fac­tors in­cluded his client’s plea, his deep shame for what had hap­pened and his re­morse, said Mr Gageby.

Mr Jus­tice Michael White re­manded the man in cus­tody un­til Oc­to­ber 17 when he will be sen­tenced.

If you have been af­fected by any of the is­sues raised in this ar­ti­cle, please con­tact the Sa­mar­i­tans helpline on 116 123, the Aware helpline on 1800 80 48 48 or Pi­eta House on 1800 247 247.

The Crim­i­nal Courts of Jus­tice in Dublin.

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