GARDAI have arrested a woman in connection with the suspicious death of four-year old Limerick boy, Mason TJ O’Connell Conway.
Little Mason was discovered with serious head injuries in a house in Rathbane, Limerick, on March 13th this year, and died from his injuries three days later at Children’s hospital Ireland, Temple Street, Dublin.
“A female in her 20s has been arrested under a warrant issued by a District Court Judge under Section 10 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, as part of the ongoing investigation into the death of a 4 year old boy in Rathbane, Limerick, in March 2021,” said a Garda spokesman.
“The female is currently detained at Roxboro Road Garda Station under the provisions of Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984.”
On August 12th last, a man in his 30s and a woman in her 20s were arrested by gardai on suspicion of murdering the boy, and they were later released without charge pending files to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Gardai have continued their enquiries into the boy’s death, after initially investigating a theory last March, that the boy sustained his injuries in a fall from a bunk bed.
On August 12th, gardai officially stated for the first time that they suspected that the boy had been murdered.
An inquest into the boy’s death, which opened at Dublin Corner’s Court last June, heard that he died from a traumatic head injury.
The hearing heard that Mason’s mother Elizabeth Conway had formally identified her son’s body to gardai in a room at the intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital Ireland, Temple Street, Dublin.
Mason had been transferred to the Dublin hospital from Cork University Hospital after initially being treated for his injuries at University Hospital Limerick.
At the inquest hearing, Gardai were granted an adjournment under Section 25.1 of the Coroner’s Act, in light of the garda investigation continuing.
Gardai applied for the adjournment on the basis that the preparation of a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions was being considered.
Speaking on August 12th, Catherine Slattery, a local Fianna Fáil councillor, said: “It’s absolutely heartbreaking, he was an innocent child with his whole life in front of him.”
“My heart goes out to the boy’s family, and the neighbours in the area who are all just in shock, it’s awful; very, very sad.”
Speaking at his son’s funeral mass, Mason’s father John Paul O’Connell wept while giving an emotional tribute to his deceased son, telling mourners, “our little superhero fought until his last breath and gained his (angel) wings”.
Mr O’Connell thanked staff at University Hospital Limerick, Cork University Hospital, and Childrens Hospital Ireland, Temple Street, “who worked around the clock and who tried their hardest to save our little man”.
“Our little man, Mason, had a family that extended for miles, on both my side and his mam’s side; you wouldn’t have to spend two minutes with Mason and he would leave a memory that would last a lifetime. He was a loving, caring, energetic little man, who loved everyone, and he will continue to love and look over us all through this hard time.”
Looking down on his son’s small white coffin in the church, Mr O’Connell said: “Mason, my little right hand man, my boy, the moment I laid eyes on you, you stole my heart like you did with so many others. My life will never be the same again.”
Mr O’Connell stood throughout the funeral mass, with his hands rested on the coffin, and tenderly kissed the coffin as his former partner, and Mason’s devastated mother sat on a chair next to the coffin with her head rested on it throughout the mass.
Mason’s parents and extended family members wore white t-shirts emblazoned with their son’s photograph, which read “Mason Forever 4”.
Mason’s favourite football and scarf along with a photograph of him, were placed on his coffin which was brought from his grandmother’s house in Castleconnell to the church, in a white carriage, drawn by two white horses.
Also speaking at the mass, March 21, Fr Tom Whelan, assisted by Fr Willie Teehan, told Mason’s family their son had captured “all hearts” in the tight knit rural community.
Fr Whelan said Mason would be remembered in the local community for his love of “football, fishing and walks around the village”.
The village stopped in silence as up to 100 people gathered wearing face masks and walking behind the cortège to the church and later on to the local cemetery.
More than €11,400 was raised to assist the family through the goFundMe website. The fund is no longer receiving donations.