The senior garda officer spearheading an investigation into the deaths of a father and daughter in a house fire has criticised local people for spreading unfounded rumours about the case.
As the family and friends of Anthony O’Brien and his five-year-old daughter, Nadine, prepared to bury their loved ones together today, gardaí insisted that they are still treating the case as an accident.
Responding to persistent local speculation that foul play might have been involved, Superintendent Jim O’Connor said: “These rumours help nobody. They don’t help the community and I have no doubt that they are not helping the families involved.
“They are certainly not helping anybody that might be subject to these rumours. They are unhelpful to everybody.”
Supt O’Connor confirmed that nobody has been questioned in relation to the devastating fire, and said it was normal practice for gardaí to take witness statements and carry out house-to-house enquiries.
Investigating gardaí have completed a detailed forensic examination of the fire-gutted house at Killeen Heights in Tralee, Co Kerry, and are awaiting the results of analysis being conducted at the specialist technical bureau in Dublin.
“When we get the results it will lead us in a certain direction, I would expect,” said Supt O’Connor.
There were poignant and harrowing scenes in Tralee yesterday afternoon during the removal of the remains of Anthony and Nadine from Gleasure’s funeral home to Our Lady and St Brendan’s Church, where the funeral Mass will take place this morning.
In keeping with the family’s wishes, Nadine will be cradled in her father’s arms in the same coffin when they are laid to rest in a plot at Rath Cemetery on the outskirts of the town.
Anthony, 30, and Nadine were found together in an upstairs room of the semi-detached house which had been ruined by fire in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Anthony’s wife and Nadine’s mother, Kelly, had escaped from the fire by jumping from an upstairs window, breaking her leg in the process.
However, she insisted on being discharged from Kerry General Hospital to help with the funeral arrangements.
Anthony had helped Kelly, 28, escape but when he turned for Nadine she was missing and they were both overcome by dense smoke and lethal fumes.
Fire fighters using breathing apparatus quickly reached them on the floor of a bedroom but efforts to resuscitate them proved unsuccessful.
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