herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

'Answers to grisly deaths of couple lie within the home'

Memers of the Garda Technical Bureau at the sealed off road in Knockadoon outside Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald's home where their bodies were discovered.
Memers of the Garda Technical Bureau at the sealed off road in Knockadoon outside Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald's home where their bodies were discovered.

Gardai are satisfied that the answers to the death of an elderly couple and the serious injuries sustained by their son lie within the family home.

Tom Fitzgerald (75) and his wife Kitty (72) were found dead at their home in Irishtown, Mayo, on Tuesday afternoon.

Their son, Paul (37), was rushed to hospital in Galway with serious head injuries. He has since been taken to Beaumont Hospital for further treatment.

Blood

It is understood Kitty's body was found lying in a pool of blood inside the house, while Tom was found lying in a trough outside. A blunt instrument, which appears to be a metal bar, may have been used to kill the couple.

A relative kneels and prays at the sealed off road in Knockadoon outside Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald's home where their bodies were discovered.
A relative kneels and prays at the sealed off road in Knockadoon outside Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald's home where their bodies were discovered.

The couple and their son were discovered by a family friend, who had been visiting.

Garda Chief Superintendent Pat Diskin said an operation room has been set up at Claremorris Garda Station and a team of investigators are in place.

"While this is a very serious incident, and is being fully investigated, I'll be satisfied that the answers to our inquiries lie within the location of the incident," he said.

"A full team from the technical bureau carried out a full examination.

"We have a full incident room set up. We're at a very early stage of the investigation and our various teams are doing serious work in relation to this matter and we're obviously trying to establish the full facts surrounding the tragedy."

Chief Supt Diskin said that a much clearer picture of what exactly happened at the house will become apparent to investigators when assistant state pathologist Marie Cassidy conducts a post-mortem today.

Flowers left by relatives at the sealed off road in Knockadoon outside Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald's home where their bodies were discovered.
Flowers left by relatives at the sealed off road in Knockadoon outside Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald's home where their bodies were discovered.

"When the post-mortems are completed, it will certainly give us an indication into what direction the investigation will take," he added.

Mr Diskin said that the situation came to their attention at 3pm on Tuesday.

Suspicious

However, gardai are still unsure of the exact timeframe of the incident, and are asking anyone that may have seen anything suspicious around the property between Sunday night and Tuesday afternoon to get in touch with them.

Adopted by Kitty and Tom at a young age, Paul was described as being "cheerful, very involved in the community and very artistic" when he was in secondary school.

Despite living in Galway, he was regularly in the area, working as a painter alongside his father.

They are understood to have painted a house together as recently as last week, with Paul even taking the lead to help his father, who had injured his leg recently and was struggling to work at heights.

Meanwhile, his parents have been remembered as active community members.

A community group met last night to help put together plans for the coming days and for the funeral, which is expected will be very large.

However, funeral details have not yet been released and are not expected until this evening at the earliest.

Joe Reapy, of the local Davitts GAA club, said: "Tom had a great spirit when it came to community matters. If anything was going on, Tom was sure to have a hand in it.

"It's shocking and hard to believe this lovely couple are gone," he added.

Garda forensic scientists from the regional crime scene investigation unit arrived on scene at the house in Knockadoon, just outside the village of Irishtown, shortly after 11am yesterday.

Family members, including Tom's brothers Vincent and Frank, arrived at the scene but - with garda tape stopping anyone getting within 300 metres of the house - could not get close.

The bodies of the two victims were taken from the home yesterday afternoon.

The hearse was followed by a number of close relatives and some neighbours and family friends, who wished to pay their respects.

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