Deaths of family and friend were ‘mindless’

The murders of a mother, her two young children and a family friend, in a house in Newcastle West, Co Limerick, on Nov 15, 2010, was described by a coroner as “mindless, mind-numbing, inexplicable, vicious” crime which shocked the nation.

Deaths of family and friend were ‘mindless’

Verdicts of death due to multiple stab wounds were recorded by a jury at Newcastle West courthouse into the deaths of Sarah Hines, 25, her children Reece, 3, and Amy, five months, and a friend, Alicia Brough, 20.

All died when John Geary set out to kill Sarah on finding out she planned to enter a new relationship.

Geary, aged 34, was jailed for life last July for the murders.

Coroner Brendan Nix yesterday said the deaths of the children along with people they loved and trusted, was difficult to comprehend. He said the details of the medical reports were so gruesome, he would forward them to the GPs of the bereaved families, so if they wished to read them, they could do in the presence of a medical practitioner.

He said yesterday’s inquest was in a way a commemoration for the four victims of a most awful and vicious crime.

Dr Michael Curtis, deputy state pathologist, who gave the conclusions of the postmortem reports, said Sarah Hines died from eight stab wounds from a knife; her daughter Amy died from eight stab wounds, four of which were caused by a screwdriver and four by a knife; Sarah’s son Reece died from 15 stab wounds, 10 of which were caused by a knife and five inflicted with a screwdriver, and Alicia Brough died from an unspecified number of multiple stab wounds.

Dr Curtis said the injuries to both women indicated they had put up a struggle during the attack.

Sergeant John Flanagan, in reply to Detective Inspector Eamon O’Neill, said that on Nov 16, 2010, Sgt Alberta McWalter alerted him at Newcastle West station that she was concerned for the occupants at 18 Hazelgrove, Newcastle West.

They went to the house at around 1.30pm. Sgt Flanagan said he went to the yard and saw blood on the patio door handle. Inside he could also see blood. He knocked repeatedly to try and gain entry. Having failed to get a response, he got keys for the house.

On entry he saw blood along the floor and on the walls leading upstairs.

In the front sitting room he found the bodies of Sarah Hines and Alicia Brough, covered with duvets.

Upstairs he discovered the bodies of the two children in one bed also covered with duvets.

Dr Donal O’Riordan said he was on duty for Shannondoc and was called to the scene. He pronounced all four dead, before the bodies were removed to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital where postmortems were carried out.

Peter Rolfe, partner of Sarah Hines’ mother, Abina Ring, and Maria Dempsey, mother of Alicia Brough, gave evidence of identifying the bodies at the hospital morgue.

Mr Nix said two blameless women and the children were “done to death” in a most awful and violent way.

It was difficult, he said, to find words to describe what had happened the two children, who had their whole lives before them.

“One can only guess at the fear they were in before they died. It is absolutely shocking and reminds us that the death of a child in such circumstances, no matter how hard a professional you may be, it is the most awful thing imaginable.

“Two little children cut down with their mother and a friend who was visiting their home.”

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