Three shot in inheritance dispute, inquest hears

An inquest into a shooting in Ireland took place following the shooting of a man by his father and brother over an inheritance dispute.

Mark O’Sullivan, who had been caring for his terminally ill mother at the time, left a note saying he feared for his life and that of his mother.

The inquest in Mallow, County Cork, heard that Mark, 26, had been shot seven times at his home in Raheen, Kanturk, Co. Cork, by his 23-year-old brother, Diarmuid, and his 60-year-old father Tadg on 26 October 2020. The two men then took their own lives outside the family home.

‘Caged animal’

Mark had left a letter behind, saying that he felt like “caged animal” and that his father and brother had vowed to leave a “trail of destruction”. He said that he no longer felt safe in his own home and that it caused him much distress that Raheen was no longer the safe haven it had once been.

The letter added that Mark and his mother had been subjected to verbal abuse, and that his brother threatened to kill himself unless their mother gave him the farm, while his father also said he would kill himself if Diarmuid did not get what he wanted.

Mark had also sent a Facebook message to a friend, where he said he was terrified his brother and father would kill him and make it look like a suicide, and he told another friend that he’d slept at the foot of his mother’s bed because of his concern for their safety.

Friend’s statement

Mark’s friend Claragh Lucey said in a statement that Mark had had a loving relationship with his mother, but that Tadg and Diarmuid wanted ‘everything to go to Diarmuid and nothing to go to Mark.’ He’d asked her to go to the Guards with the message he’d sent her if a body was found as proof his death hadn’t been suicide.

Anne O’Sullivan died in April, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer in February 2020. Her statements were read out at the inquest. She woke to the sound of gunshot on the morning of 26 October and discovered Mark’s body.

She fled from the house to seek refuge with her neighbours, unable to call for help from the house as Tadg and Diarmuid had smashed the phones in the house.

Farm left in mother’s will

The family farm – some 115 acres – had been left to Anne by her mother in 2013. Tadg also owned land in Cecilstown given to him by his family. The lands had been left in the couple’s names and they’d never discussed that they became joint holders of each other’s properties.

She noted that in October 2019, Diarmuid began to distance himself from her, and he and his father became more critical of Mark. Tadg had told her she needed to get her affairs in order. She had spoken to Mark about splitting the land 50/50 with his brother.

Diarmuid told her that his vision for the land was that Mark inherited the house, the courtyard and bogland, while he inherited the rest of the land as he was the one who deserved it. However, the seismic change took place in February 2020, when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and told Diarmuid that the land must be split as evenly as possible, and that she had always known Diarmuid was in line to inherit his father’s land.

Warned of ‘consequences’

At the time, her youngest son told her she had a week to decide or “there would be consequences”. He felt that his older brother was lazy and did not deserve his fair share of the inheritance.

She wrote her Will in September 2020 “in a fair way” and did not discuss its contents with Tadg or Diarmuid.

Dr Michael Kennedy, the coroner at the inquest, said it was a shocking incident and that it was hard to make sense of what had happened. Anne O’Sullivan subsequently attended the joint funerals of Tadg and Diarmuid, and the separate funeral of Mark.

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