Irish order triple murder inquiry

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The Independent Online
ALAN MURDOCH

Dublin

An Irish government review is to investigate why steps were not taken to confine a triple murderer, Brendan O'Donnell, after he was diagnosed as psychotic at the age of 14.

The County Clare man, aged 22, received three life sentences on Tuesday for the murders in 1994 of a 29-year-old mother, her baby son and a local priest.

A Dublin psychiatrist, Dr Brian McCaffrey, said communication problems rather than a lack of resources were behind the failure to detect the danger.

Police sources said a Dunblane-type mass slaughter was only avoided by the fact that O'Donnell, who had a fascination with guns, lacked weapons.

O'Donnell's sister Ann-Marie said he was "raving" when he came back from England, where he had served a sentence in March 1994, a month before the killings. There were a series of incidents before O'Donnell killed Imelda Riney, her son, Liam, and the priest, Fr Joe Walsh, after forcing them at gunpoint into woods near Whitegate, County Clare.

In one incident O'Donnell had threatened an unarmed garda with a shotgun.

The inquiry will focus mainly on why Ballinasloe mental hospital in County Galway released O'Donnell only two weeks after he had stabbed his sister and threatened to attack her child, in 1992. His 53-day murder trial was the longest in Irish legal history.

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