Conor Leonard an ‘inspiration’ to family after mum Connie’s murder

Mourners, including her son Conor (centre), at the funeral of Connie Leonard on Friday

Mourners, including her son Conor (centre), at the funeral of Connie Leonard on Friday

The brother of murder victim Concepta ‘Connie’ Leonard has described her son, Conor, as “an inspiration” who “may have gifts that we don’t even know he has”.

Ms Leonard was killed by her ex-partner Peadar Phair at her home in Co Fermanagh on Monday. Her son, Conor, who has Down’s syndrome, was stabbed by the attacker as he sought to defend his mother.

The killer is also deceased; he is thought to have killed himself at the scene.

Conor was described as a “reason to hope” by parish priest Fr Brendan Gallagher amid heartbreaking scenes at her funeral.

Fergal Leonard, Connie’s brother, told the BBC his nephew is “making steady progress” after the tragedy of losing his mother.

He added: “It’s going to be difficult for him but he seems to have his own way of dealing with things. Fair play to him, he’s taking one step at a time.

“Sure, he’s been an inspiration to all our family and friends and lots of people who are looking at this sad situation.

“There’s no doubt, since the day he was born, we’ve all been very, very proud of him and that continues.

“Conor, I suppose, may have gifts that we don’t even know he has.”

Mr Leonard added: “He has a great network of friends and family. He’s got lots of great friends through his own networks, and I’m sure there will be lots of professional people available to help Conor as well.

“Conor is like any other son or daughter to their mother. Every parent thinks very highly of their sons or daughters. Conor is no different. Conor was very much loved by Connie and by us all.”

He described what his sister meant to him and thanked those who had offered thoughts and prayers for the family.

He said: “There’s been support from right across the country. I’ve had messages from people that I’ve never met and probably will never meet. This has all been a great source of strength to our family, knowing that there’s people that care about us.

“It’s been well documented how good a girl Connie was. She was just so good to everyone. A bubbly, happy person, a very talented girl. She was a great mother and just a natural home maker.

“I will remember Connie as a great sister, someone I could chat to, share things with. A great mother, a great sister.”

Mr Leonard continued: “I really appreciate everyone’s thoughts, their prayers, and messages of support. I’d like to use this opportunity to pass on our thanks, on behalf of everyone. Thank you so much.”