The inquest into the deaths of two brothers who were found dead in their home in Banada in Co Sligo in July last year, has returned a unanimous verdict of unlawful killing in the case of nine-year-old Brandon Skeffington.
A majority verdict of suicide as a result of unsound mind was declared in the case of his 20-year-old brother Shane Michael Skeffington.
The jury added a rider to the verdict which said that civil society should redouble its efforts to ensure that all young adults and children are educated about mental health and encouraged to discuss their problems and fears.
Speaking on behalf of the Skeffington family, solicitor Ciarán Tansey said they believed that Shane Michael loved his brother Brandon very much and would never ever want to harm him but he was not in a fit state to think rationally and this unfortunately led to a horrific situation.
He said the family has been through a horrible experience over the past 18 months and wanted to thank all of those who have helped them including friends, family, the gardaí, Coastguard and HSE.
The boys’ parents Carmel and Shane Skeffington told Sligo Coroner's Court that they had gone shopping to Sligo town with their two-year-old son Callum on 20 July and that their sons Brandon and Shane Michael and their daughter Sharon stayed at home.
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When they returned between 7pm and 7.30pm Ms Skeffington found Brandon upstairs lying on the floor and his tee-shirt was soaked in blood. Mr Skeffington, found Shane Michael dead in a shed out the back of the house.
Deputy State Pathologist, Dr Michael Curtis told the inquest that Brandon died as a result of two stab wounds to the chest, one to the front and two to the back. He said Shane Michael died as a result of hanging and that toxicology results in the case of both of them were negative for drugs or alcohol.
The inquest was told that prior to the deaths of the boys, there had been an incident which resulted in Shane Michael being involuntarily admitted to St Columba's psychiatric unit in Sligo.
Gardaí were called to the Skeffington house after Shane Michael had become aggressive towards his father and had kicked him. Ms Skeffington said that she called the gardaí in her son's best interests because she knew he needed help. He was admitted on 14 May 2014 and kept for six days.
During that time he refused to eat or take tablets and had to be restrained by staff to administer the medication. He was also kept in isolation for some of the stay for his and others safety after he became aggressive with staff.
Dr Donagh O'Neill said that it was a crisis admission and that Shane Michael had had a psychotic episode as a result of cannabis use. He said that generally in such cases the symptoms go after one to two weeks once the person stays off cannabis.
Dr O'Neill said there was a comprehensive follow up plan put in place when he was released from hospital including a visit to the Skeffington home by a social worker.
No concerns were raised about Shane Michael's behaviour and he was said to be eating and sleeping well. A number of appointments were made for him at outpatient clinics and addiction counselling but he attended none of them and was discharged from the system on 20 June.
Dr O'Neill said he was shocked and horrified when he heard what had happened to the Skeffington brothers in July.
Ms Skeffington said she was surprised but delighted when she was told Shane Michael could go home from hospital and presumed that he was better.
She said he was given seven tablets but did not take them and did not attend the appointments made for him. She said he was not how he had been before, he was different and did not go into town for weeks but she thought that was a good thing.
Mr Skeffington said his son told them he was not going to take the tablets but from then until his death he seemed fine to him.
When he was asked if he was given a written care plan for his son or told how to look after him, he said: "I didn't have a clue, they are the educated ones".
Mr Tansey said the family feels there was a failure in the system and that more should have been done than one visit from a social worker.