The mother of a young man who fatally stabbed his nine-year-old brother and then took his own life has said that even now the family are unable to understand how something like that could happen.
Carmel Skeffington and her husband Shane returned from a Sunday afternoon grocery shopping trip to town to their Sligo home five years ago to discover their eldest son Shane Jnr (aged 19) who was on babysitting duty had stabbed his younger brother Brandon (aged 9) with a knife, leaving him fatally wounded. The young man then took his own life.
Mrs Skeffington said that people need to be more educated about mental health as she and her husband, Shane, were "out of their depth".
Speaking on RTÉ Six One News, Mrs Skeffington said: "We didn't understand what was wrong. We're not doctors."
She said that the brothers "were like two peas in a pod" and that she "couldn’t have even imagined that Shane Michael would have done anything like that".
He was so loving and caring, he was so good with Brandon...Even now we can’t get our heads around it, how something could have happened like that.
According to Mrs Skeffington, Shane Michael did not show signs of mental health difficulties until May 2014.
Shane Michael had spent six days in seclusion in a high dependency unit at St Columba's Hospital.
The family had hoped that when he was admitted to the hospital he would receive the help he needed.
Shane Michael was discharged on May 20.
Mrs Skeffington said that while Shane Michael helped around the place, he would also spend a lot of his time in his room.
She said that people need to be educated about mental health issues so that they can be aware of what signs to look out for.
Earlier today, Shane and Carmel Skeffington reached a settlement with the HSE without admission of liability and the terms are confidential.
Despite this, Mrs Skeffington said that nothing has changed for her, her husband and their three remaining children.
"We've got to keep on going without the two boys," she said.
It's hard without them but we keep their memory alive. It's all we can do.
Family of man who killed brother, 9, settle HSE action; Court hears family's trauma will live on forever
The family of a young man who fatally stabbed his nine-year-old brother before taking his own life today settled a High Court action against the HSE.
Shane and Carmel Skeffington who have three remaining children and live at Banada, Tourlesrane, Co Sligo, had sued the HSE. The settlement is without admission of liability and the terms are confidential.
Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told by Eoin McCullough SC that it was a very tragic case where on July 20, 2014, Shane Jnr assaulted his brother and then killed himself.
Shane Jnr had previously been a patient at a mental health facility in Sligo.
Counsel told the court it was their case had there been better treatment available, there may not have been that outcome. The claims were denied.
Shane Skeffington and his wife Carmel returned from a Sunday afternoon grocery shopping trip to town to their Sligo home five years ago to discover their eldest son Shane Jnr (aged 19) who was on babysitting duty had stabbed his younger brother Brandon (aged 9) with a knife, leaving him fatally wounded. The young man then took his own life.
When the Skeffingtons left the house at 4pm, Shane Jnr was playing with his brother in their shared bedroom. When they returned three hours later, they found Brandon lying on his back at the top of the stairs. His father performed resuscitation with advice from the ambulance and continued it for 45 minutes.
Mr Skeffington found his son Shane Jnr in the shed adjacent to the family home. He was on the ground and had taken his own life. On arrival at hospital, both were pronounced dead.
Outside the Four Courts today, Ciaran Tansey solicitor for the Skeffingtons said it was a tragic case, and the family hope now to draw the matter to a close.
Mr Tansey said: "This was a particularly traumatic experience for Carmel and Shane Skeffington. Matters that arose on the evening of July 20, 2014, will never be forgotten. As far as Carmel and Shane are concerned, they love their children enormously.
"They are their beloved Shane Michael and their beloved Brandon. And they will forever remain so.“
"Unfortunately the trauma will live with the family for the rest of their lives. What I would say, however, is that the pleasant memories of their beloved Shane Michael and Brandon will never be forgotten."
The Skeffingtons had sued the HSE for alleged negligence and breach of duty. It was claimed there was an alleged failure to take care of Shane Jnr when he was in Saint Columba’s Hospital, Sligo, in May 2014 and that he had been allegedly discharged on leave with absence on May 20, 2014, considering him to be of "no immediate risk of harm to self or others", when clinical notes allegedly recorded him as being aggressive towards a member of nursing staff that same day.
It was further claimed there was an alleged failure to complete a formal risk assessment prior to granting leave and discharge from Saint Columba’s Hospital and an alleged failure to provide any adequate follow up for Shane Jnr.
It was further claimed Shane Jnr had been discharged from the mental health system on May 28/29 when allegedly there had been no examination by a psychiatrist or a medical practitioner since his discharge on leave of absence.
Mrs Skeffington, it was claimed, is constantly under a dark shadow and is deeply traumatised by the events. Her husband also continues to suffer from anxiety and grief and suffers from continuously disturbed sleep patterns, it was further claimed.
All the claims were denied.
Approving the settlements, Mr Justice Cross sympathised with the Skeffington family and said it was a sad and tragic case.