Sunday 23 October 2016

Heartbroken mum's appeal after horror deaths of 'our 3 little angels'

Thomas and Helen O'Driscoll at the inquest into the death of their three sons in Cork
Thomas and Helen O'Driscoll at the inquest into the death of their three sons in Cork
Thomas, Jonathan and Patrick O'Driscoll

The heartbroken parents who lost three sons to a murder-suicide have said they don't regret fostering Jonathan (21), whose mental health problems were central to the tragedy.

However, Thomas and Helen O'Driscoll appealed for greater support for mental health services to ensure no other family has to endure the horror of their loss.

The couple lost three sons when Jonathan (21) fatally stabbed his younger brothers - nine-year-old twins Thomas 'Tom Tom' and Patrick 'Paddy' - before killing himself.

Jonathan was fostered by the O'Driscolls as a three-day-old baby and then adopted by them when he was 15-years-old.

But Jonathan developed mental health problems, including depression, paranoia and suspected psychosis.

Despite the tragedy, his parents said all three boys remained in their hearts.

"May God give my three boys a bed in heaven, my three little angels," Helen sobbed.

"I would never turn back the pages - especially with Jonathan," Thomas said.

"All of our family are our pride and our joy. I will never forget the three boys - Jonathan, Paddy and Tom Tom - may they rest in peace forever," he said.

Both parents stressed that Jonathan deeply loved the twins - and would regularly spend all his money on his adored younger brothers.

Thomas and Helen also have two younger sons - Jimmy (5) and Martin (3) - and an older daughter, Bernadette (24).

"Jonathan and Bernadette guarded the twins with their lives. When they were small visitors could only look, but they were not allowed touch. Jonathan loved the twins and he spent a lot of time with them and he spent a lot of money on them," Thomas said.

"He adored them and they adored him right back."

Now, the couple want lessons to be learned from the tragedy that rocked the north Cork town of Charleville on September 4, 2014.

Helen pleaded for greater help for those with mental health problems.

"Oh God, yes, they do need more resources. I would strongly look for that - at the end of the day, it is your child and my child that walks through that door looking for help."


"I know that sometimes they may not show it, as we have seen here today with my young fella, but if they (people suffering with mental health issues) keep protesting (that something is wrong) they (the authorities) have to understand that something is behind it.

"I think they (mental health services) need to open up to that and they need to be supported in doing it."

Helen appealed for people with mental health issues to seek help.

"If there is anyone out there - boys and girls or adults - suffering from depression - please don't wait for their parents to be sick and broken-hearted like us.

"Go and find help, no matter what phone you pick up. Tell someone, no matter whether it is a friend or a family member. There is someone who will listen. There is help there," Helen said.

"For God's sake, before your parents end up like us - totally broken-hearted - get that bit of help while you are able.

"We got some answers today, thanks be to God. It is a step more for us to get on with life. At least now we now know exactly what happened. There is no need to blame anyone - but for the good God up there who wanted him (Jonathan).

"We will be broken hearted this September (for the first anniversary). Every day is like a million years and I suppose it will be like that for the rest of our lives. But I am hoping that no other family will be like us.

"It meant a lot to us (what the jury said). We tried to help Jonathan. We did our level best to help him.

"But sometimes things go wrong. I hope that no son or daughter will ever have their family go through this."

Helen added that she stills recalled her eldest son's pain and anguish when he was bullied as a teen about being adopted and the implications of the arrival of his new twin brothers in 2005.

"There was an incident when the twins arrived. My Jonathan got into a corner and lads his own age told him about being adopted and that he wouldn't be wanted anymore and that we would give him back because we had the boys now."

Despite Helen and Thomas reassuring Jonathan about being loved, their eldest son became obsessed with details of his birth family.

He also took the breakdown of a relationship with his long-term girlfriend very badly.

"This played on his mind, kids played on his mind and he had it in his head that he couldn't have any children. Maybe it was because myself and Thomas had to wait 17 years to have our twins," Helen said.


Her eldest son's mental health was subsequently rocked by a car accident in 2012 and the suicide of a close friend.

"Jonathan took it very bad," she said.

It was only after Jonathan's death that his parents learned he had been badly bullied - in one case being deliberately intoxicated before being hit over the head and knocked unconscious.

"Jonathan had a great life growing up - football, hurling, boxing, etc. But he was quiet and spent a lot of time on PlayStation and the internet in more recent times.

"As a mother, I did feel sorry for Jonathan, but he just kept things to himself.

"Jonathan was very private and he used never to tell me (about his problems), but if I saw he was down I would advise him to go to the doctor."

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this story the following organisation can help. The Samaritans (1850-609090), Console (1800-247247), Aware (01-661 7211) and Grow (1890-474474).

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