Police have confirmed that the two young sisters found dead in their home on Tuesday had died from asphyxia and their father from burns and smoke inhalation. They concluded that they are not looking for anyone else in in connection with the three deaths.

Investigators believe that John Butler (43) strangled his two daughters, Zoe (6) and Ella (2) to death in their family home before crashing his vehicle in an apparent suicide bid last Tuesday morning.

Supt Flor Horan said the the police are preparing a file for the coroners court in relation to the deaths.State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy and her colleagues, Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis and Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster completed the postmortems on the victims bodies yesterday at Cork University Hospital.

Zoe's body was discovered on the couch and Ella's lying on the floor in the front room of the family home. Both were still dressed in their pajamas.

Police believe they two girls were killed some time after 8am after Mr Butler's wife, Una, left the family home to travel to work in Cork City.

Investigators have established that Mr Butler went to Shanagarry petrol station and filled a five-gallon drum of petrol at 9.30am, he crashed his car into a ditch outside Ballycotton less than ten minutes later.

The bodies of the two girls were discovered some time later by two of Ms Butler's sisters when they called to the family home upon hearing about the car crash and learning that Zoe had not shown up for school.

Ms Butler's two sisters were then brought by police to Cork city to inform her of the triple tragedy. However upon arrival they were notified she had already left for Ballycotton.

Traffic Corps then intercepted Ms Butler at Ballymaloe and informed her that her husband had been killed in a car crash. Soon after her brother arrived from Ballycotton and broke the news to the mother that her two children were also dead.

The bodies of all three victims have been released to the family and it is expected all three will be buried over the coming days.

Mr Butler had worked for Irish Steel in the past but had been unemployed for the past year. It is understood he had been treated for depression in recent years.
 

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