The heartbroken grandfather of tragic toddler Clarissa McCarthy has asked ‘how could anybody hurt a little girl like that?’

Three-year-old Clarissa was drowned by her father Martin McCarthy who then took his own life in the sea near their West Cork home.

Martin took the drastic action after his wife Rebecca had told him she was leaving him and moving back to America with their daughter.

Now her Californian family have spoken to the Evening Herald newspaper of their heartache at the loss of their grandchild.

Rebecca’s father Harry Cejnar told the paper: “Nobody in their right mind would do that to their own daughter.”

Still resident in Southern California where Rebecca, now 25, grew up, Harry confirmed to the paper that his daughter met McCarthy, a west Cork farmer, on a school exchange trip when she was just 16.

McCarthy was 41-years-old at the time and they married three years later.

Police believe McCarthy killed his daughter in reaction to the news that she was to move to America and away from him.

As Rebecca’s mother and sister fly to Ireland, her father told the paper that the family cannot understand how the deaths occurred.

He added: “Rebecca couldn’t have brought Clarissa back to the United States because Clarissa didn’t have a passport.

“The laws in Ireland would mean Martin would have to say that was OK,” Mr Cejnar said in a newspaper interview.

“I don’t understand it at all - I still can’t believe it. Rebecca and Martin were good parents. I hadn’t heard of any problems between them at all.

“I just don’t understand how this could have happened. Something must have gone wrong. Clarissa was a great kid.”

Rebecca had brought her daughter to see her family in the US last year.

Her grandfather added: “How could anybody hurt a little girl like that?

“Nobody in their right mind would do that to their own daughter. I never met Martin but Rebecca and Clarissa came here last November.

“Rebecca seemed happy. She told me she was. She came back over to take some decorating classes for her bakery and then she went back.”

Cejnar also told the paper that his daughter and her future husband had an online relationship after she first met him.

He said: “She came home and told me that she was going to get married to Martin. She said she was going to wait until she was 18.”

Rebecca’s sister Jessica said their family are shaken up following the deaths which they learnt through a ‘horrible’ phone call on Tuesday night.

She said: “Our mam Linda and aunt will head over to West Cork now to be with her.

“I don’t really know what happened. I am very close with my sister and have visited west Cork a few times. I don’t know much about Martin. I know he was older.

“We are all pretty shaken up over this.”