Inquest into Co Cork farm deaths returns verdict of unlawful killing in the case of Mark O'Sullivan
THE jury at an inquest into the deaths of a father and two sons in Co Cork last year has returned a verdict of unlawful killing in the case of Mark O’Sullivan.
The jury recorded that both his brother Diarmuid (23) and father Tadg (60) took their own lives.
The Coroner's Court in Mallow heard that Mark O'Sullivan (26) had been shot seven times, while his father and brother had each died of a single gunshot wound.
The inquest was also told that in a letter found in his mother Ann's pharmacy bag, Mark admitted that he feared for them both.
Mark's body was found in a bedroom of the family's home at Raheen, near Kanturk, on the morning of October 26 last year after his mother had fled the farmhouse to raise the alarm.
A major garda operation was launched ahead of the bodies of the three dead men being discovered.
The remains of Diarmuid O'Sullivan and his father were found around 500 metres from the family home.
Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster told the court that the elder brother had gunshot wounds to his chest and head and defensive shots to his right arm.
The cause of death was traumatic brain injury with extensive lacerations to the lung and liver due to multiple gunshot wounds.
Dr Bolster said Diarmuid and Tadg O'Sullivan each died of traumatic brain injury due to a single gunshot wound. Letters had been found on both bodies.
The court was told that Ann O'Sullivan, who died in April this year, confided in her cousin Louise Sherlock that all the bad feeling between the four had begun with her diagnosis of terminal cancer in February last year.
She said there was pressure from her younger son and husband to make a will leaving her family farm to the youngest son.
In a series of interviews given to gardaí before her death, Mrs O'Sullivan recalled waking on the morning of the shootings and seeing her husband and Diarmuid standing in the doorway of Mark's bedroom with guns.
In harrowing detail, she described how they smashed her and Mark's phones and changed the gate lock so that she could not escape. She managed to slip away across the field to a neighbour's house where she raised the alarm.
She told gardaí that her family farm was never an issue in their marriage but that relations had become steadily strained.