community shocked | 

Gardai confirm that firearm was not used in tragic murder-suicide in Co Donegal

Gardai said the results of the post mortem will determine the course of the investigation

The scene in Letterkenny and (inset) victim Daniel Duffy

Neil Fetherstonhaugh, Eavan Murray, Robin Schiller and Stephen Maguire

Gardai have confirmed that a firearm was not used in the tragic murder-suicide that claimed the lives of Daniel Duffy and his son Damien in Co Donegal.

In an update on the case that has shocked the local community in Letterkenny, gardai said "no firearm was used in this incident”.

It follows reports that Damien (50) smothered 88-year-old Daniel at their bungalow at Windyhall on the outskirts of Letterkenny.

He then reportedly killed himself and was found dead in a car at the rear of the property.

“Gardaí in Letterkenny continue to investigate all the circumstances into the discovery of two male bodies at a house in Windyhall, Letterkenny, Co Donegal on Thursday 23rd December,” gardai said this morning.

“One male body, a man in his 80s was discovered in the house and a second male body, a man in his 50s, was discovered in a car in an adjacent shed.

“Both bodies have been removed from the scene to Letterkenny University Hospital where post mortems are due to take place this morning by SallyAnne Collis, a State Pathologist.

“The results of the post mortem will determine the course of the investigation.”

Gardai added that the scene remains preserved as the technical bureau continues examinations.

They also appealed to anybody who may have any information to contact them at Letterkenny Garda station on (074) 9167100, the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda station.

Gardaí at a house where the bodies of two men were discovered in Windyhall, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, on Thursday. Picture: Declan Doherty

Meanwhile, the community where the tragedy occurred is trying to come to terms with what has unfolded in their midst, just as the holiday season got under way.

The bungalow where Daniel and Damien died was decorated with a Christmas tree, lights and candles.

The deaths sent shockwaves through the community, where locals say they do not know what could have led to such a tragedy so close to Christmas.

Local people described the family as well-known and highly respected.

Both men were said to be “extremely intelligent and engaging”.

Mr Duffy Sr was head of the ESB in Letterkenny for several years and his son also worked with the company.

Damien was regarded as a “computer genius” and had graduated with first-class honours and was planning to do a masters.

He often worked in a self-contained flat at the back of the bungalow.

A neighbour who called to the house at around 2pm yesterday made the tragic discovery and alerted gardaí, who sealed off the scene.

It is believed Mr Duffy Sr had not been seen in around a week, and gardaí are trying to determine when he died.

Neighbours said both men were witty, and Mr Duffy Sr “idolised” his son.

Both were Manchester United fans, were season ticket holders and often went to matches at Old Trafford.

They also loved snooker and were “very creative”, often working on building projects together.

Damien’s mother, Christine, died in 2009 and the two men lived in the house together.

The family suffered another tragedy only two years ago when Mr Duffy’s daughter, Caroline, died from cancer at the age of 48. Another daughter lives nearby.

A neighbour and life-long friend of the family said: “Daniel and Damien were two of the finest people – hard working, highly intelligent, creative and very entertaining. This is incomprehensible.

“I am devastated and will miss them terribly.”

Yesterday afternoon, local people passing the family home blessed themselves as they slowed down as a mark of respect.

A number stopped in a bid to catch the family’s pet dog, which ran down the road and away from the scene.

A Christmas wreath hung from the front door of the bungalow while a Christmas tree stood in the garage window at the rear.

Two large satellite dishes on the garage are believed to be connected with Damien’s work with technology.

A neighbour and friend who asked not to be named described Mr Duffy Sr as “a gentleman” who was loved and respected by everyone.

“I am horrified by this. Daniel was a lovely man and for this to happen is just unthinkable,” the neighbour said.

“He worked for years in the ESB and was good-humoured and funny and great to be around.”

Jimmy Kavanagh, Mayor of Letterkenny and Milford Municipal District councillor, told Newstalk Breakfast that the community is totally shocked and saddened by what has happened.

“It’s Christmas Eve and that has heightened the sadness of the whole event… the fact that Christmas is such a family time.”

He said the hearts of “everyone in the community” go out to the family and friends of the deceased.

Cllr Kavanagh said both men were well-known and well-liked people “who got on with everyone”.

“They were a highly respected family," he said. "There’s great sadness in the area about it. Something obviously went tragically wrong.

“This is something that came totally out of the blue.”

Local councillor Gerry McMonagle said the whole community was stunned by the news.

“It’s a dreadful tragedy, and our hearts go out to the families involved,” he said.

“The whole community is stunned. It’s a nice quiet area and people just can’t believe it.

“People feel they have troubles, but tragedies like this put life in perspective.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.

“It’s an awful, tragic incident, all the more so when it’s father and son and we are just two days away from Christmas.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all the extended family at this time.”

Councillor Michael McBride echoed the shock of the local community.

“It’s a real tragedy, especially at this time of the year,” he said.

“Our hearts go out to the family and the neighbours there.

“It is an area we would never associate with any kind of violence. There is deep shock in the community tonight.”

Helplines: If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, click here for more information

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