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Co Fermanagh murder-suicide: Connie Leonard's son was stabbed defending his mum

 Connie Leonard

THE family of a Co Fermanagh woman believed to have been killed by a former partner who then took his own life, have told how she had been harassed in the months leading up to the murder.

Concepta (Connie) Leonard (51) was found with stab wounds at a house in Abbey Road, Maguiresbridge, on Monday afternoon.

Her only son Conor (30) who has Down syndrome, was injured in the attack. It is believed he was stabbed in the abdomen while trying to defend his mother.

A talented musician Conor was recovering from his injuries in the South West Hospital in Enniskillen. His grandfather Dinny Leonard, also a well known traditional musician, was by his bedside.

It is thought they were attacked by 55-year-old Peadar Phair, a former partner of Ms Leonard. His body was also found at the house.

Forensic officers at the Co Fermanagh home of murder victim Concepta Leonard. Picture by Mal McCann.

Phair, had been rushed to hospital after Conor Leonard managed to raise the alarm, but he died a short time later of self inflicted injuries.

Police have said they are not seeking anyone else in connection with the tragedy.

More than two dozen murder-suicides reported in Ireland since 2000

Phair, who lived in Scotland for a time, had previous convictions for violence and had served time in prison for attacking a previous partner.

Ms Leonard had a Non Molestation Order in place after previous incidents of violence and threats from Phair.

At the family home a short distance away in the village of Brookeborough, a sign on the front door asked that people 'pray for Conie'.

 Connie Leonard

A relative said the family said they were just "devastated" adding that they were "incredibly proud" of Conor who had fought to protect his mother.

"They were very close and he tried to protect her. He's a great wee man, he's recovering well thankfully.

"We knew she was having trouble with him (Phair). There was an order in place, even at that you still don't expect this.

"It's hard to find words, we're just devastated. She was just devoted to Conor."

As forensic experts attended Ms Leonard's home yesterday neighbours said they had been left in deep shock at the tragedy.

Police cordon close to Maguiresbridge in Co Fermanagh where a murder suicide took place on Monday night. Picture Mal McCann.

SDLP councillor Richie McPhillips said he knows the families of both Ms Leonard and Phair.

"Concepta's father Dinny is a very accomplished musician as is Conor, they are a very musical and well known and respected family.

"I was at the same school as Peadar, I know his family as well.

"This is a rural community where neighbour lives by neighbour and so you can imagine the shock that something like this could happen.

"I'd no idea there was any problem. You don't know what goes on behind people's doors. My thoughts are with the families and with Conor and I hope that he makes a full recovery," he added.

Sinn Féin MLA Michelle Gildernew, said she spoke with a member of the Leonard family on Monday evening after hearing the news.

"They're just the most wonderful family. Everyone knows Dinny, he teaches music in the local schools

"It beggars belief that something like this could happen. I'm just so devastated for the entire family, they are such lovely people and this is your worst nightmare," she added

Detective Chief Inspector Eamon Corrigan said that post-mortem examinations would be carried out, "at this stage, we are working to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident."

Fr Lawrence Dawson, the priest in Ms Leonard's parish of Aghavea, said a "wave of shock and grief" had spread through the area.

"I knew Connie very well, she was an active member of the parish, a great musician, an all-Ireland champion and she shared her talents in church services," he said.

"It affects everyone when they see how fragile life is and how easily it can be snuffed out.

"But it's a tight-knit community here and they're rallying around the family and they'll help them pull through it and help them to face the future with faith and courage."

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