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Dublin: 9 °C Saturday 30 May, 2020

'The end of a long battle': Family of man who killed brother (9) before taking own life settles HSE case

Shane Michael Skeffington died by suicide after stabbing his brother Brandon in July 2014.

Shane Skeffington Jr (Grey Hoody) and his younger brother Brandon (Purple T-shirt)
Shane Skeffington Jr (Grey Hoody) and his younger brother Brandon (Purple T-shirt)
Image: CollinsPhotoAgency

THE PARENTS OF two boys found dead in their Sligo home in 2014 today settled their case against the HSE in the High Court.

Nine-year-old Brandon Skeffington was found by his parents Carmel and Shane with stab wounds at the family’s house in July 2014. He was taken by air ambulance to hospital where he died of his injuries.

Brandon had been stabbed by his brother, Shane Michael Skeffington (20). He was also found dead in the house. He’d died by suicide.

A 2015 inquest into his death found that Brandon had been unlawfully killed while a verdict of suicide by unsound mind was declared in Shane’s case.

The High Court case by the parents against the HSE heard that Shane had been a patient at a mental health facility in Sligo, RTÉ reported.

He had spent six days in seclusion at a high dependency ward before he was discharged in May 2014.

His parents alleged negligence or breach of duty in the case, and said the HSE had failed to take reasonable care of their son.

It was their assertion that if he’d received better care, the subsequent events would not have occurred.

The HSE had denied the claims in court and did not admit liability while settling the case. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Six One News, Carmel Skeffington said today’s verdict “changes nothing for us”.

“It’s hard without them,” she said. “Keeping their memory alive is all we can do.”

Describing the events, Carmel said their “world turned upside down”, and they never imagine Shane Michael doing anything like this.

She said: “We can’t get our head around it… He really loved his little brother, and his little brother had loved him.

Just beforehand in May, he was admitted to St Columbus’s. We hoped he’d get the help he needed. He didn’t realise himself anything was wrong… but here we are today without them.

“We were out of our depth, I suppose,” she said. “We didn’t understand what was wrong. Shane Michael tried. He didn’t different things to try to help around the place. We thought there were positive things. We didn’t know, and people need to know these things. They need to know what to watch out for.”

Solicitor Ciarán Tansey said that the HSE had commissioned a report into the case, which found it could improve on the care provided to individuals like Shane Michael.

“We were satisfied that there was an argument we were prepared to bring in medical negligence,” he said. “We brought that case in 2016. Clearly, the HSE had its own view on the merits of that case. Today, matters were concluded favourably as far as the Skeffington family is concerned.

Today is the end of a long battle. The abiding viewpoint of the family is that the HSE makes these changes that are required to ensure all children are given the treatment they deserve, and these things don’t happen. 

If you need to talk, support is available:

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email
  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Pieta House 1800 247 247 or email (suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

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About the author:

Sean Murray

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