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TRAGIC TOT Mason O'Connell's gran pleads for answers about tot's death as gardai make third arrest

Heartbroken Breda O'Connell has called on those with knowledge of his death to "tell gardai the truth about what happened to him"

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Mason was just four when he died.

Mason was just four when he died.

Mason was just four when he died.

The heartbroken grandmother of tragic Mason O'Connell has called on those with knowledge of his death to "tell gardai the truth about what happened to him."

Breda O'Connell, the grandmother of tragic tot Mason (4), issued the call after the gardai made their third arrest in the ongoing probe into the little boy's death.

"All I want is justice for little Mason," Breda told the Sunday World. "We [his family] want answers, we want closure, we want to be able to grieve.

"I am a broken-hearted grandmother.

"I loved that child like he was my own.

"He was with me here since he was a little baby.

"And he didn't deserve to be hurt by anybody … he was such a lovely good-natured little child."

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Mason’s grandmother Breda O’Connell with Patrick O’Connell.

Mason’s grandmother Breda O’Connell with Patrick O’Connell.

Mason’s grandmother Breda O’Connell with Patrick O’Connell.

 

Happy-go-lucky Mason sustained fatal head injuries at a house in Rathbane, Limerick on March 13.

He died three days later at Children's Hospital Ireland, Temple Street, having been earlier treated at University Hospital Limerick and Cork University Hospital.

An inquest in June heard a post-mortem carried out by pathologist, Dr Heidi Okkers, had established his cause of death as "a traumatic head injury".

The inquest was adjourned until December 14 at the request of gardai who said an investigation into the circumstances of Mason's death was still ongoing.

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In a significant development in the case, in August gardai arrested a man and a woman in connection with Mason's death and confirmed they were being held on suspicion of murder.

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Breda O’Connell wants answers about her grandson.

Breda O’Connell wants answers about her grandson.

Breda O’Connell wants answers about her grandson.

 

Confirming the arrest of the two people in connection with the boy's death, a garda spokesman said: "Gardai investigating the death of a four-year-old boy in Limerick have arrested a male, in his 30s, and a female, in her 20s, on suspicion of murder."

Both were detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984, before being later released.

In a further development this week, the same woman, who is not related to Mason, is understood to have been arrested by gardai as they executed a search warrant as part of the ongoing murder probe.

She was again released without charge.

Files in connection with the arrests are being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Speaking this week, Breda said the arrest of the suspects and their subsequent release from custody had been very difficult on her, her sons and Mason's grieving mum Elizabeth.

"It has been devastating," she said. "One of my sons lives here with us and my other son is home at the moment from Texas.

"I went with him to Mason's grave for the first time on Monday.

"I just hadn't been able to until this, I needed his strength to lean on to go up there. We're all just devastated by this.

"We need answers, we need to know if someone hurt Mason and if they did, they should be punished for it."

Speaking with the Sunday World after Mason's burial in March, Breda described how she had spent four nights praying for his recovery as he battled for his life in hospital.

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Mason’s coffin is removed.

Mason’s coffin is removed.

Mason’s coffin is removed.

 

But, she said: "All our prayers couldn't save my little man."

"All I have now is my memories and the joy he gave me.

"Nothing can bring him back to me and that is the hardest thing to bear.

"But I will never get over him. He was my little man and that's what he will always be."

Recalling the moment, she learned of Mason's injury, Breda said her whole world stopped.

"The shock that evening when I got the phone call - I nearly died," she said.

"And then there was praying and praying and praying. We all lit candles hoping against hope that he'd get better.

"And we had said, no matter how he came home, no matter what way he was after, we'd mind him here ourselves."

Describing how the people of Scanlon Park, where the family home is located, rallied round, Breda said: "The people were so good, you couldn't name one above the other.

"They all knew Mason, and they were all praying for him. But it wasn't to be.

"All I can do now is talk about him and tell of the memories I have of him.

"It's not going to bring him back to me.

"But maybe it helps me a little bit to know people will know him."

Describing her first memories of her little grandson, Breda said from the moment he was born he brought joy into the lives of everyone in the family.

"He was here, on and off, from the time he was born," she said.

"We'd been expecting another girl, but we were delighted when he came along.

"How could I describe him? He was a lovable rogue and he had some imagination on him.

"When he was staying here, he'd come down the stairs in the morning and I'd hide behind the coats on the banister and say: 'There's a monster coming down the stairs … I'm scared'.

"And he'd be laughing and laughing and say: 'It's only me nanny'. I'd ask him what he wanted for his breakfast and he say: 'Spuddies'.

"He loved a bowl of mash and he'd eat that on its own all day, but I'd give him sausages or chicken nuggets, or gravy and he would devour the whole lot.

"A man wouldn't eat as much, he was just a lovable, beautiful child. The greatest nature you could ask for in a child.

"You hear of babies and children dying, and you'd see the little headstones in the graveyard, and you'd read them and say: 'God help us'.

"But it's when it comes to your own, when your family is the one to lose a child, it's only then you really know what grief is.

"He was a beautiful child and far too young to be taken."

Anyone with information on little Mason's death is asked to contact Roxboro Garda station on (061) 214 340 or the Garda Confidential Helpline on 1800 666 111.

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