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Horrific evidence heard at murder/suicide inquest


INQUEST Paul Fitzgerald and his girlfriend Aoife O’Gorman leaving Castlebar Coroner’s Court yesterday, after the inquest into the deaths of Paul’s parents, Tom and Kitty Fitzgerald (also pictured). Pic: Keith Heneghan

Son of tragic  Irishtown couple has no recollection of day's events

Anton McNulty

THE son of an Irishtown couple who were killed in a gruesome murder/suicide has no recollection of what occurred before, during or after the incident.
Thomas Fitzgerald (74) and his wife, Catherine (Kitty) Fitzgerald (72), of Knockadoon, Irishtown, Claremorris, were both found dead at their home on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Their son, Paul (38), was discovered badly injured and disoriented at the scene.
Mrs Fitzgerald was found lying face down in a pool of blood in the hallway of her home, while Mr Fitzgerald was found in a water trough in their farm yard.
The inquest into their deaths was held yesterday (Monday) in Castlebar. The jury recorded a verdict of death due to homicide for Mrs Fitzgerald, and self-inflicted homicide for Mr Fitzgerald.
The assistant State Pathologist, Dr Michael Curtis explained that Mrs Fitzgerald died from blunt force trauma to the head after she was struck a minimum of three blows with a solid implement.
Mr Fitzgerald died as a result of ingestion of a corrosive fluid, believed to be weedkiller, which was found beside his body. Death would have been rapid.
Giving evidence at the inquest, Paul Fitzgerald stated he was adopted by the Fitzgeralds and that he lived in Galway City but would visit them when they needed help. He said he had gone to their house a week prior to the incident to paint a wall. This is the last time he remembers seeing his parents, he said.
“I don’t have any memory of the incident at Knockadoon, Irishtown,” he said. “I don’t know why I went down to the house that day. My last memory before that day is attending the drive-in movie, ‘The Lion King’ at Retro Drive in Cherrywood Business Park outside of Dublin. I drove there and back in my jeep with my girlfriend, Aoife O’Gorman.
“I still do not recall being contacted by either my father or my mother on the Monday morning to come down to Knockadoon.”
Mr Fitzgerald told the inquest that he visited his parent’s home for the first time since the incident on March 23 last. He walked around the yard and house, but still could not remember what happened on November 1, 2016.
Forensic evidence
A 65-centimetre-long rusty metal bar, heavily bloodstained at the lower end, was found at the scene and examined. Forensic scientist John Hoarde explained that DNA belonging to the three Fitzgerald’s were found on the bar.
After examining the crime scene and the blood patterns found, Mr Hoarde gave an outline of what he believed had occurred on the day of the incident.
He explained that blood patterns in the main bedroom, corridor and hallway indicate that Catherine Fitzgerald was initially assaulted in the main bedroom. She then seems to have made her way up the corridor to the hallway where she was fatally struck on the head.
He went on to discuss evidence outside the house. “The blood patterns in the yard and shed indicate that Paul Fitzgerald was assaulted in this area and collapsed on the ground outside the shed. He subsequently made his way into the house through the back door and lay in a bed in a bedroom while bleeding heavily,” said Mr Hoard.
“The blood matching both Catherine and Paul Fitzgerald’s DNA profiles on the metal bar indicate it was used as the weapon in the assaults on both Catherine and Paul Fitzgerald,” he continued.

Gruesome discovery
The alarm was eventually raised by Aoife O’Gorman. She had gone to her boyfriend’s parents’ home after becoming worried when he failed to reply to her texts and after she had rung his phone up to 40 times. She had never been to the Knockadoon house before, and had never met Paul’s parents.
She said she had last received a text from him on Monday, October 31, at 10.47am. She stated she had received an earlier text on Saturday, October 29, saying he was going to Mayo.
When she got to the house, after asking for directions locally, she knocked but did not get an answer. She noticed a bloody hand print on the door. When Paul eventually came out he had black eyes and dried blood on his face and could not remember what happened. She also said that he had a ‘big, deep cut to the back of his head; I could see into his skull’.
“I asked him where his parents were and why they didn’t bring him to the hospital. He said he didn’t know,” she said. “Paul said random words. ‘shower’, ‘bed’. He wasn’t making sense. He made a gesture with his hands by putting his two hands together at the side of his head, like a sleeping gesture. He said more words, but they didn’t make sense to me.”
Ms O’Gorman said she then told her boyfriend she would bring him to the hospital. He then went back inside, and she rang her mother, who advised her not to go in the house. Her father then called her, and also asked her to stay outside.  
She decided to follow a dog who was whimpering into the house and discovered the body of a woman with ‘a massive pool of blood beside her face’.
“I asked Paul, ‘What happened? Is that your mother?’. He just shrugged his shoulders. I asked him where was his dad. He shrugged his shoulders again and said ‘shower’. I went into the bathroom. The shower was going; there was no one there,” she said.
Ms O’Gorman said she left the house and got into her car. Her father rang her again to tell her to ring 999. She did so and asked for an ambulance.
Taser used
Garda Aidan Foley, a member of the Regional Support Unit at Claremorris Garda Station, said he received a call at 3pm and was informed of a ‘shooting or a double shooting, or possible stabbing’ in Irishtown.
On arrival, he said a male had his hands in his pockets and was approaching a paramedic. Garda Foley said the male (Paul Fitzgerald) was not following instructions and was behaving in an unpredictable manner and as a result he was tasered.
Paul Fitzgerald fell to the ground and was handcuffed. (He was subsequently brought to University Hospital Galway and then onto Beaumont Hospital in Dublin).
Gardaí then entered the house, where they discovered Mrs Fitzgerald’s body and later found Mr Fitzgerald’s body in the farmyard.

Paul Fitzgerald explained that after leaving school he qualified with a degree in Fine Arts and Sculpture but never used his degree. Instead he worked in various jobs in Galway where he has lived for the last 12 years.
After leaving home he would initially go back three out of every four weekends, but the frequency of the visits became less as time went by. He said he was closer to his father than his mother but noted his father suffered from depression.
Thomas Fitzgerald was a painter and decorator, but the inquest heard after he acquired a knee problem he could no longer work as much. Paul Fitzgerald said his father was concerned about the future because of his knee.
Coroner for Mayo, Mr Patrick O’Connor said this was probably the most difficult type of inquest a coroner can be asked to deal with. He expressed sympathy with Paul Fitzgerald and the family and community, saying ‘words really are inadequate’.

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