The family of a mother and daughter – murdered at their home in Newry last March – have urged anyone who feels they are at risk of domestic violence to “seek help”.
They spoke out after an inquest into the deaths of Giselle Marimon-Herrera and her 15-year-old daughter Allison heard harrowing evidence on Thursday of how they were killed at their flat at Glin Ree Court in Newry by Scottish national Russell Steele.
The 38-year-old killed both his partner, Giselle, and raped and killed her teenage daughter, before taking his own life.
The family pet dog – a Chihuahua – was also found dead at the flat.
News of the deaths had created shockwaves, the grim discovery coming after they had been reported missing by a family member.
The inquest, heard by Coroner Mr Joe McCrisken at Armagh Courthouse on Thursday, found that Giselle died as a result of asphyxiation and suffocation.
A labourer, Steele – who had two children from a previous marriage – hanged himself after taking the life of his partner and her daughter.
The response from the local community in the aftermath of the tragedy was overwhelming as people rallied around to pay for the family of the mother and daughter to fly from their home in Colombia in their time of grief.
They also shared photographs of the final resting place in Portugal of the ashes of both Giselle and Allison, as well as a picture of their dog, which had been found dead alongside them last March.
They were, they said, “absolutely devastated” at the loss of Giselle and Allison.
And they added: “We are a very private family who have been catapulted into the public domain as a result of this murder.
“We would like again to thank the public, Michael Savage SDLP, Neal Rushe Youth Sinn Fein, Newry Credit Union and Kim Winters who organised donations which the family used to travel from France and Colombia to Northern Ireland where they were able to see where they lived and to meet pupils and teachers at Newry High School which Allison attended .
“The fund also assisted in paying for the cremation of both Giselle and Allison which took place in Belfast and it also paid for all the family to travel to Portugal where their ashes have been laid to rest.
“The family appeal to anyone who is at risk of domestic violence to seek help.”