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Home / News / Deaths of Michael and Thelma Dennany ‘unlawful’

Deaths of Michael and Thelma Dennany ‘unlawful’

A verdict of unlawful death has been returned at the inquest into the deaths of Michael and Thelma Dennany in at the Coroner’s Court, Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

Following conclusions by the State Pathologist, the court heard Dr Sally Ann Collis testify that the cause of death was complications of vehicle fire.

Five-year-old Thelma and her two-year-old brother Michael died after their mother set fire to the car in which the two children were sitting at Lackan, Multyfarnham on 9 September 2022.

Their mother Lynn Egar, of Winetown, Rathowen, Co Westmeath, pleaded guilty to the murders of her children at the Central Criminal Court last November.

At the inquest today in Mullingar, Coroner Raymond Mahon heard from witnesses, emergency responders at the scene, gardaí investigating the case and the State Pathologist.

A number of witnesses who were first upon the scene did not attend court in person, with Garda Sergeant Orla Keenan explaining they were still traumatised from the events on the day.

Sgt Keenan read out the depositions in the absence of these witnesses, the first of which was from off duty Garda Niall Smyth who met Lynn Egar outside St Cremin’s National School where he was collecting his son and Ms Egar was collecting her daughter Thelma at around 1.45pm on 9 September, 2022.

In his deposition Gda Smyth said Ms Egar appeared to be in a positive mood, did not appear to be in distress and was engaged in conversation with him and his wife and another parent.

Gda Smyth also said that in his opinion, Ms Egan was in good spirits, showed no signs of
trauma or distress, was not dishelleved, had clear speech and was steady on her feet.

His disposition also noted that he was not aware of Ms Egar leaving as he went back to his own car.

The court heard that a short time later witness Ross McCarron who was driving from Cavan to Mullingar via Multyfarnham came across a car at an angle and a GLS van, driven by Hasam Aminu.

The court heard both men saw the passenger door opening and closing and that they ran to the car when they saw smoke coming out of the door, which then started billowing out.

Mr Aminu said he dragged a woman out of the car from the passenger seat. He said he also saw a boy who was two or three years old and pulled him out.

Both men reported explosions and calling 999 for emergency services to attend the scene.

In Mr Aminu’s testimony he said he left the scene as he could not do any more to help and his hands were burnt.

In another deposition read out, the court heard evidence from Sinead McMahon who said they made desperate attempts to resuscitate the child. She said she was a nurse and administered CPR. She said they tried to shock him three times before he was taken in an ambulance to Mullingar Regional Hospital.

Giving his testimony in court, Stephen Owen from Mullingar Fire Service said the car was on fire and there were two casualties at the scene when he arrived.

He said the female was breathing and her clothing was burnt but the child was in a worse condition.

Some minutes later after the fire was extinguished he realised there was a third casualty after Lynn Egar asked him “are the two kids out?”

Mr Owen said this is the first time they realised there was a second child and he only became aware of this when the fire was fully extinguished.

Through their solicitor Anthony Feeney, the family asked a second fireman Alfie Devine if Ms Egar asked about the children’s wellbeing after she asked him where Michael was.

Mr Devine said that she did not ask about either child’s condition, just that she had two children when she was in the ambulance. He said she told him she was taking them on a drive to collect her children at Wilson’s.

Appearing in court, Sergeant Jimmy Cronnelly said he became aware that Ms Egar had sent text messages to family members at around 3.40pm, but that he only became aware of it shortly before a call reporting a car on fire.

The court heard that Michael Dennany was taken to Mullingar Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

It also heard that Thelma Dennany was pronounced dead at the scene before being taken to the mortuary in Tullamore.

Both children were formally identified by DNA samples.

State Pathologist Dr Sally Ann Collis carried out post mortems on both Michael and Thelma Dennany.

In her testimony, she told the court that Michael had over 70% of burns on his body, which could have been independently fatal.

Dr Collis said toxicology reports showed levels of carbon monoxide and carboxylhemoglobin.

She said the elevated levels of carboxylhemoglobin indicated he was breathing during
the fire.

In the case of both children, she said her findings were that the cause of death was
complications of a vehicle fire.

She also told the court there was no trace or alcohol, drugs or sedatives in either child following toxicology exams.

Coroner Raymond Mahon advised the jury that there was clear evidence that the children’s deaths had been caused by somebody acting in an unlawful manner.

He said their deaths were solely caused by unlawful acts of a third party and that a
verdict of unlawful death would be “appropriate and proper”.

After two minutes of deliberations the jury of one woman and five men returned a verdict of unlawful death.

They passed on their condolences to the children’s family and commended their dignity in the face of very difficult circumstances.

Mr Mahon offered the family “my heartfelt sympathy in this absolute tragedy.”

He commended all involved for listening to “harrowing evidence” that described the “horror of the situation that arose and that those innocent babies should have their lives ended in this way.”

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