Northern Ireland

Concepta Leonard murder: Priest praises injured son

Concepta Leonard funeral Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Concepta Leonard's son Conor, who was injured in the attack, walks alongside his mother's coffin on Friday

The injured son of murder victim Concepta Leonard has been praised for his courage in the moments after he and his mother were stabbed at their home.

Monday's attack is believed to have been carried out by Ms Leonard's former partner, whose body was also found at her County Fermanagh house.

The funeral of Ms Leonard, 51, has taken place in Brookeborough.

Her son Conor, who has Down's syndrome, is thought to have summoned help via an alert system installed in their home.

He had been stabbed in the stomach, and was taken to hospital where he received stitches for his wounds.

Fr Lawrence Dawson described the 30-year-old as "very courageous", and explained how he had pressed an alarm button that summoned the emergency services to the scene within minutes.

At the scene: BBC News NI's Louise Cullen

Children with whom Connie Leonard had shared her love of music helped form a guard of honour as her coffin arrived at the little church of St. Mary's in Brookeborough.

They comforted each other as some wept.

Music for the Mass came from groups Ms Leonard had worked with, as a three-time All-Ireland medal winner in accordion and piano.

She was described as a great mother, musician and cook, whose energy and enthusiasm inspired those around her.

At the end of the service, outside the church, her son Conor waved goodbye to her coffin as it began its final journey.

Image caption A floral tribute has been placed outside the grounds of the house where Mrs Leonard lived

In his funeral homily at St Mary's Church on Friday, parish priest Fr Brendan Gallagher said Conor Leonard "is our future and our reason to hope".

"Thankfully he survived the ordeal of Monday, because he is the one who will lead us all on the journey of recovery," he told mourners.

"His love and his affection will be a source of healing for all, he is the light that will renew the spirit of hope in our lives."

'Beautiful person'

Fr Gallagher said Ms Leonard had suffered a horrific death.

He said people would be asking why such a terrible thing would happen to such a beautiful person.

Image caption Mrs Leonard's funeral is taking place in Brookeborough

"But we know that Connie would not want family or friends, thinking or feeling that way. Because for her, she had Conor with her, and that was the most important person she wanted with her at that moment," he said.

"The circumstances and the tragedy of Connie's death, cannot destroy the love that was in her heart and soul. The love that all of you, family and friends, received from her."

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Mourners were told a terrible thing had happened to a beautiful person

The funeral of suspect Peadar Phair, who reportedly hanged himself after the attack, took place on Thursday and Fr Dawson said his family were finding it very difficult to come to terms with the tragedy.

Ms Leonard had applied for a non-molestation order on Phair.

She was murdered a day before a court hearing had been due to take place in Enniskillen, in relation to the order.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption It is believed Peadar Phair had moved away from the area a number of years ago

Police are treating the attack on Conor Leonard as attempted murder.

They are not looking for anyone else in connection with the stabbing.

Ms Leonard was well-known from her involvement with the Irish music organisation Comhaltas.

She also ran a catering business in Lisnaskea, County Fermanagh.

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