Shock as devoted mum found dead in 'hatchet attack'
A MOTHER-OF-THREE was beaten to death with a hatchet in her bedroom.
Susan Dunne (53) was attacked in her home and left with “catastrophic” injuries.
A 19-year-old suspect was later arrested and remains in garda custody today.
Ms Dunne's body was found by neighbours in a bedroom of the cottage she shared with her son in Ballinageragh, Lixnaw, Co Kerry at around 9.30am yesterday.
Gardai are expected to upgrade the investigation to a murder probe following the completion of a post-mortem examination of Ms Dunne's remains today.
She also has two other adult children who are not living in Lixnaw.
Neighbours' suspicions were raised when they saw her car being driven from her home.
Later that morning, gardai arrested the 19-year-old in Listowel and brought him to the local garda station where he is being detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.
Ms Dunne, who was originally from the UK, and her son had taken up residence in their council home about two years ago but apart from their immediate neighbours, were not well known within the community.
But Ms Dunne had built up close friends within Kerry Autism Action, a group she chaired, and had been to the fore in a campaign for an autism unit at a local school.
She was due to attend their regular monthly meetings at the Meadowlands Hotel in Tralee last night ahead of a planned meeting with local councillors in the group's bid to forward their plans for the unit.
Committee member Domnick Walsh, who knew Ms Dunne well, described her as a "tireless campaigner" for children with intellectual disabilities.
He told the Herald: "Susan was everyone's 'go to' woman. If anyone was in dire straits and could not find help anywhere Susan was the one they turned to for advice.
"She was always there for people who needed someone to talk to."
Parish priest of Lixnaw, Fr Maurice Brick, described her as a devoted mother to her son and said she was his "soulmate and minder".
She had recently arranged for him to have driving and swimming lessons.
"She was always there with her boy. They were very close and she was his soulmate and his minder," Fr Brick said.
"They kept very much to themselves but when she needed support, her neighbours were always there for her and they're absolutely traumatised by the events.
"We all have a mother and we know how we feel about our mothers so people are devastated, the women in particular – it's very sad.
"She was always there with her boy.
"She was his minder and his carer and that obviously adds to the pathos of the moment in time.
"People who were important to her were her immediate neighbours who helped her out in the house.
"This is a warm, tight-knit rural community where people look out for each other especially for neighbours.
"The events have numbed and shocked the neighbours. They are huddling together, talking about what has happened and trying to support one another and we are supporting them by being here," he added.
Last night at Mass in Lixnaw, Fr Brick called for prayers for the tragic family but said people would pull together and be there for each other.
It was the third tragedy associated with the council bungalow in Ballinageragh. In 1990 a local man died from smoke inhalation at the house.