pure grief | 

Mason O’Connell’s heartbroken gran says family is ‘in limbo’ since tot’s death

The four-year-old sustained fatal head injuries at a house in Rathbane, Limerick on March 13, 2021

Breda O'Connell

Mason O'Connell

Patrick O'ConnellSunday World

The heartbroken grandmother of tragic Mason O’Connell says her family is ‘in limbo’ waiting to learn whether anyone is to be charged over the little boy’s death.

The four-year-old sustained fatal head injuries at a house in Rathbane, Limerick on March 13, 2021.

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

Gardai previously confirmed that a man and a woman arrested last year in connection with his death were detained on suspicion of murder.

In a statement at the time, gardai 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.”

Although a file was subsequently sent to the DPP, a decision has yet to be made known to gardai on whether charges will be proffered in connection with his death.

Speaking this week, Mason’s grandmother Breda O’Connell said gardai have told the family that they are still waiting for a decision to be made by the DPP.

“This March coming Mason will be dead two years and so far we have had no word of anything,” she said.

“We have been warned, with cases like this, it can take anything up to three years for a decision to come back … but it’s so hard waiting.

Mason O'Connell

“One of the detectives rang me a few weeks ago and although the file has gone to the DPP, it will take time for them to go through all the evidence the gardai have gathered.

“They have to be so careful … and they have to look into every detail to make sure everything has been looked at.

“But they said, the minute they hear back, they will let us know.”

Asked how her family is coping in the wake of Mason’s death, Breda said every day is a struggle.

“The gardai have done their best for us and for Mason but they can’t do any more now until the DPP comes back. So, for us, that means waiting and more waiting.

“Mason would have been six on September 29th. And it’s breaking our hearts that he should have been going back to school yesterday with all the other kids.

“Mason was always here with me so if he was still with us, it would have been a difficult week for me seeing him off to school because I would have been so lonesome.

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

Woman arrested as part of probe into Mason O'Connell (4) death released without charge

“I would have been so worried in case he would have gotten upset in school and I wouldn’t have been able to look after him. But it would have given me joy as well knowing he was growing up.

“I remember him always saying to me: ‘I’m going to the big school next year’. He was always saying that when he was going to the creche.

“So little things like that — taking his photo on the first day of school out in the front garden — those are the little things that get to us.

“To see other little children starting school and for Mason to be gone and not able to be a part of that … it’s heart-breaking. And we’re just not the same happy family that we used to be because of it.

“What we feel each day is just pure grief. For other people, Mason can be forgotten but he can never be forgotten by us. We’re in limbo with heartbreak over the child. It’s true fact that he’s gone and that we will never get him back, but I want people to reminded of him and not to ever forget him.

An inquest opened into Mason’s death last year heard a post-mortem carried out by pathologist, Dr Heidi Okkers, had established the little boy’s cause of death as “a traumatic head injury”.

Anyone with information on Mason’s death is asked to contact Roxboro Road Garda Station on 061-214340.

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