Kanturk killings: Autopsy results will not be revealed

Gardaí hope that the results of the autopsies carried out by the state pathologist will answer some of the many questions in the case
Kanturk killings: Autopsy results will not be revealed

Tadgh, Mark and Diarmuid O’Sullivan who died in a shooting in a remote part of Kanturk in North Cork. Picture: Gardaí

The post-mortem examination on the body of Mark O’Sullivan, who was shot dead on Monday at his family farm, has been concluded.

It follows the post mortem examinations of the bodies of his younger brother Diarmuid and their father, Tadgh were completed on Tuesday.

All three died during what is believed to be a murder-suicide at the remote rural farm where they lived near Castlemagner, north County Cork.

The 26-year-old trainee lawyer was found by gardaí in a bedroom in the farm, near Assolas.

He had sustained gunshot wounds.

They later found the bodies of Diarmuid and Tadgh.

The 23-year-old is reported to have had a lengthy note on him.

It is reported to have contained a suggestion that Monday’s incident may have been planned for some time.

Now that the post mortems have been completed, the bodies will be formally identified at Cork University Hospital by a family friend.

On completion of Mark’s post mortem, gardaí said: “The post mortem on all three of the deceased men has now been completed.

“The results of the post mortem have been given to investigating Gardaí, details of which will not be disclosed.

“A file will now be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Coroner.

“No further details are available.

“Gardaí would once again like to remind members of the media of the request for privacy for the family involved.” 

The Irish Examiner understands gardaí are now no longer looking for anybody to come forward and help them with their investigation.

Anne O’Sullivan had only returned to the farmhouse with her oldest son Mark at around 4pm on Sunday afternoon.

They had both been staying with a family friend nearby after Mrs O’Sullivan had returned from a major operation in Dublin earlier in the month.

However, shortly after 6am, at least one shot was fired in the house and Mrs O’Sullivan managed to get out and raise the alarm.

Just over an hour later, two more shots were fired.

But it wouldn’t be until around 1.30pm when the bodies of Diarmuid and Tadgh were found together at a nearby ringfort.

Gardaí are hoping a range of ballistic tests will unravel the sequence of events.

Experts are hoping examinations on the bullets found in the bodies will reveal which weapon or weapons they came from.

Sources said this is true for bullets discharged from rifles, which have “distinguishable features” on the outside of them after being fired, but that this is not the case for bullets fired from shotguns.

Three weapons, two rifles and one shotgun, were recovered.

Two were found in the field and one inside the house.

It is not clear if the father and son then ran out of the house together or if one chased the other.

The ground they covered and their shoes will be examined.

Experts said the locations of the two bodies in the ditch may also give clues as to whether one or both of them discharged firearms.

The scene has been closely photographed to assist investigators.

It is not clear how long it will take the various sections in the Garda Technical Bureau to complete their tests.

Questions to answer 

Gardaí hope that the results of the autopsies carried out by Margaret Bolster, the state pathologist, will answer some of the many questions in the case, in which trainee solicitor Mark O'Sullivan was shot dead at about 6am on Monday in his bedroom at the family farmhouse. 

The bodies of his father, Tadhg, 59, and brother Diarmuid, 23, were found with gunshot wounds in a nearby field. They were lying near two rifles.

A garda on duty yesterday at the entrance to the O’Sullivan family farm near Kanturk, Co Cork. Picture: Daragh McSweeney/Provision
A garda on duty yesterday at the entrance to the O’Sullivan family farm near Kanturk, Co Cork. Picture: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

The postmortem examinations on two of the deceased men were completed yesterday. 

It is believed that the tragedy was sparked by disagreements over who was to inherit land at the 150-acre family farm in Assolas, Castlemagner,  near Kanturk.

However, despite earlier reports of a recent incident at the isolated farmhouse, gardaí said that there had been no garda interaction with the deceased men, or their family, prior to the tragic events of October 26.

Apparent suicide-note discovered

Gardaí are also investigating a suspected suicide note found on the body of Diarmuid O’Sullivan, according to the Irish Times.

The note, which is understood to have been over ten pages long, was found strapped to Diarmuid O’Sullivan.

Gardaí are now investigating if the details of the note can shed light on whether the killings were pre-planned.

It is understood that the younger son, Diarmuid, a trainee accountant, may have felt aggrieved by the provisions of a will that would have seen his brother inherit land at the farm to which he felt entitled.

The farm at Assolas, Kanturk, Co Cork, where three members of the O’Sullivan family lost their lives in a suspected murder-suicide early on Monday. Anne O’Sullivan fled the scene when a shooting incident began. Later, one of her sons was found shot dead in his bedroom in the house and her husband and other son were found dead with gunshot wounds in a nearby field. Picture: Dan Linehan
The farm at Assolas, Kanturk, Co Cork, where three members of the O’Sullivan family lost their lives in a suspected murder-suicide early on Monday. Anne O’Sullivan fled the scene when a shooting incident began. Later, one of her sons was found shot dead in his bedroom in the house and her husband and other son were found dead with gunshot wounds in a nearby field. Picture: Dan Linehan

The sons' mother, Anne O’Sullivan, who is understood to be recovering from recent hospital treatment, escaped from the house when the shooting began. She rushed to a neighbour for help.

The three men's bodies were found later. 

Local community left 'devastated'

Aindrias Moynihan, Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North-West, said the local community is still reeling from the tragedy.

"It's an awful tragedy," he said. "I think people are really, really shocked. 

"It's so difficult to get your head around. 

"I know there's a strong community locally that will be rallying around but really, the shock and the horror of it rocks people to the core." 

He said that there is an overwhelming sense of disbelief and of terrible loss in the area.

"It's just so tragic for the family. And it's a massive blow to the community. 

You have to get your head around what happened first. Asking the 'why' will be a whole other chapter.

Fr John Magner, the curate in the parish of Kanturk, blessed the three bodies at the scene and later offered comfort to Mrs O’Sullivan.

“I spent some time talking to her, offering comfort. I prayed over her, to have the strength to cope with this enormous loss,” Fr Magner told RTÉ.

“I didn’t know what to say. I did the best I could, chatting with her, and prayed over her.”

 A Garda on duty at the laneway leading to the O’Sullivan family farm where three members of the family lost their lives in a shooting incident at Assolas, Kanturk, Co Cork.
A Garda on duty at the laneway leading to the O’Sullivan family farm where three members of the family lost their lives in a shooting incident at Assolas, Kanturk, Co Cork.

It was the first time Fr Magner ever had to pray for three deceased people. He said the people of Castlemagner were numbed, stunned, and devastated by what had happened.

“It was a very sad scene,” he said.

Paul Gallagher, Castlemagner GAA press officer, said: "People are still trying to come to terms with what happened.

"Grief is difficult to deal with at the best of times — but when you add the circumstances of a tragedy of this magnitude, the grief just gets multiplied tenfold.

"Also, the whole Covid-19 scenario further complicates matters because normally when you have a tragedy or a bereavement, the community rallies around.

"You would call around and do your bit, but this whole Covid-19 thing has scuppered all of that.

"People have to be very mindful of that."

He added: "That said, we will do whatever we can do within the guidelines to ensure that we do a bit for the family."

He said Mark and Diarmuid were involved in the GAA when they were at Ballyhass National School, having played with Croke Rovers, a juvenile hurling and football club in the Duhallow division made up of players from Castlemagner and Kilbrin GAA clubs.

Tadgh O'Sullivan: Hardworking and respected

Timothy 'Tadgh' O'Sullivan, 59, died of gunshot wounds in a field at his family farm.

A North Cork native and an only child, he moved from his home in Roskeen to Assolas outside Kanturk when he married Anne.

Tadgh O'Sullivan
Tadgh O'Sullivan

The couple were married for almost 30 years and had two children, Mark and Diarmuid. 

They lived at a farm, inherited through Anne's family.

Mr O'Sullivan worked in the motor trade for all of his adult life, most recently at a garage in North Cork.

The deceased was respected in the local community for his hard work and he was a keen sports fan.

His second cousin, Paul O'Sullivan, said: "I can't get my head around it. It doesn't make sense. My heart goes out to the family."

Mark O'Sullivan: 'A gentle soul'

Described as "a gentle soul", Mark O'Sullivan, 25, had graduated with a masters degree in business and law last year.

It is believed that he was training to be a solicitor at the time of his death.

Mark O'Sullivan
Mark O'Sullivan

He played GAA locally as a child and went to secondary school at Coláiste Treasa in Kanturk before he studied law at the University of Limerick and University College Cork.

His Facebook profile shows him smiling with friends at his graduation ceremony and travelling the world. 

Mark was the eldest of Tadhg and Ann O'Sullivan's two children. 

He loved sports and regularly attended GAA matches.

His friend and former classmate Siddhant Shahane said that Mark was the last person he could imagine something like this happening to. 

"The Mark I knew was a very gentle soul," he told RTÉ. "A nice guy, always helping." 

Diarmuid O'Sullivan: 'Respected'

Diarmuid O'Sullivan was due to be conferred next week with a first-class honours degree in accounting.

The 23-year-old, who concluded his studies in June, was “a young man with promise”, according to staff at Cork Institute of Technology.

Diarmuid O'Sullivan
Diarmuid O'Sullivan

Head of student affairs Dan Collins said the entire CIT community was in shock as news of the tragic deaths unfolded yesterday.

Dr Collins said staff described Diarmuid as “a young man with promise” who was “a hard worker, respected, and held in high regard” by staff and students alike.

He started his studies in accounting and business management in 2016 after passing his Leaving Cert at Coláiste Treasa in Kanturk, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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