‘After stabbing me and mum, dad kissed me ... then took his own life’

Michelle Greaney at the double inquest into her parents' deaths, at Midleton court house yesterday.

Daughter recalls tragedy at parents’ double inquest.

A troubled father who stabbed his wife to death and critically injured his daughter, bent down to kiss her as she cradled her dying mother, before taking his own life.

Michael and Valerie Greaney’s eldest daughter, Michelle, recalled the horror at a double inquest yesterday into the deaths of her parents at their home in O’Neill Place, Cobh, Co Cork, on December 28, 2014.

Michelle said she and her younger sister, Sarah, were raised in a tight-knit loving family, and had a normal traditional upbringing.

But the inquest was told that Mr Greaney had suffered a mental breakdown while struggling with financial difficulties and was hospitalised after a violent incident.

Court restrictions were lifted just two months before the tragedy which allowed him to return to live in the family home.

Michael Greaney, Cobh, killed his wife Valerie and himself.
Michael Greaney, Cobh, killed his wife Valerie and himself.

In a graphic and harrowing statement, Michelle recalled how she had been relaxing in her bedroom when she heard screams just before 3pm on December 28, 2014.

Sarah, who was downstairs, feared her father was having another breakdown, and fled to a neighbour’s house to raise the alarm. 

Michelle met her father on the landing.

“Dad was in a panic. I thought it was a break-in but he moved towards me. He put his hand on my shoulder and pushed me against the wall of the library. It wasn’t a shove. It was like he guided me,” she said.

She said she then saw a knife close to his face.

“He didn’t say a word. I didn’t realise I had been stabbed and ran downstairs after him.” 

She said she saw her mother slumped in the hall, and put her arm around her, and realised their clothes were soaked in blood and that the front door was locked.

“Dad was in the hall panicking, with his hands behind his back. I remember being next to mam, and I shouted ‘don’t hurt me, give me the key and the knife’,” Michelle said.

“It looked as if he wasn’t there. When everything was happening, he wasn’t there, but his mood changed and he was back.”

Michelle Greaney at the double inquest into her parents’ deaths, at Midleton court house yesterday.Picture: Eddie O’Hare
Michelle Greaney at the double inquest into her parents’ deaths, at Midleton court house yesterday. Picture: Eddie O’Hare

She said he went into the kitchen and she tried to concentrate on getting out of the house before he returned to the hall.

“I told him I loved him. He said he knew. He bent down to kiss me and told me to take care of my mother. And then he went upstairs,” she said.

Despite her injuries, Michelle managed to make it to the back of the house.

“I lay down and fainted. I thought if I let go and sleep, it will all be over,” she said.

But she spotted a key, opened a side door and managed to stagger across the road where she collapsed, and was treated by neighbours.

Sgt Ray Coughlan told coroner Frank O’Connell that Mr Greaney, 53, had borrowed heavily before the boom to buy a number of investment properties.

He was under considerable financial pressure, was embroiled in legal issues with the financial institutions, and had become obsessed with money — all of which contributed to a mental breakdown.

He was involved in a violent incident in May 2013 and attempted to take his own life afterwards. 

He was detained at the Central Mental Hospital before being charged a month later with assault causing harm and false imprisonment.

He was later found not guilty by reason of insanity and was remanded back to the Central Mental Hospital. 

He was subsequently released under strict conditions which included that he not return to the family home.

However, following a court application, the restrictions were lifted and he returned to the family home in October 2014 — just two months before the tragedy.

The inquest confirmed that Ms Greaney died from a single stab wound to the chest. She also suffered defensive wounds to her hands.

Mr Greaney, who was found dead upstairs with two kitchen knives nearby, had suffered two stab wounds to the chest — the second of which was fatal.

He had no defensive wounds and his injuries were in “accessible sites for self-infliction”, assistant state pathologist Dr Margot Bolster.

In a statement issued through the solicitor afterwards, Michelle and Sarah, and Valerie’s family, the Hayes, said they do not seek to hold anybody or person responsible for this tragedy.

They said they have cooperated with a HSE inquiry and await its findings.

“They especially hope that the relevant agencies in the Cork area have access to on-call forensic psychiatric assistance on a 24-hour basis,” the statement said.

Mr Greaney’s parents, Michael Snr and Maureen, also urged the Government to do more for people suffering from mental ill-health: “We ask the Government to act sooner, rather than later, and step up to its responsibilities in providing the necessary funding, supports and services to help stem this awful epidemic which is in most counties in the country today.”

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