Woman told her husband eight 'caring' words before killing baby and then herself

Darren Coleman with his late wife Nicola Keane
-Credit: (Image: Colin Keegan)


A devastated father has recounted the harrowing moment he discovered his seven-month-old son lifeless after his wife, who was battling post-natal depression, took the infant's life before ending her own.

In October 2020, Darren Coleman faced an unimaginable tragedy when his wife, Nicola Keane, in the grips of post-natal depression, killed their baby boy Henry and subsequently took her own life while Darren slept unaware in their home.

The grief-stricken dad and husband revealed that despite being advised not to leave his wife and child alone following her diagnosis, he was never told why. Speaking out in a radio interview, Mr Coleman has now issued a stark warning that "more tragedies" are inevitable unless immediate changes are made to the treatment of women during and after pregnancy.

Darren painfully described the night that changed everything, saying: "It was a normal Wednesday for us... We went upstairs at 10.30pm, and as we were going upstairs, I could hear Henry very unsettled... Nicola said, 'I'll just take him out to the spare room and walk him there, he'll settle in a few minutes'."

"Ten minutes later, I could still hear Henry crying so I went back out and said 'I'll take him, you go into bed' and she said 'No, you have to work in the morning' not in a pushy way, but in a caring way. Next thing I remember was being woken in the middle of the night by knocking at the door and seeing the Garda lights outside... I shouted for Nicola and said 'the Guards are at the door' but I just continued downstairs ... they said they found [Nicola's] car and I just said, 'Where's Henry? ", reports the Mirror.

The dad added: "They had a confused look on their heads, so I ran straight upstairs and found Henry. I knew he was dead. I held him. He was floppy in my arms, there was blood under his nose - he was gone at that stage, I knew that. So, I just said goodbye and I brought him downstairs. The guards and the paramedics said they'd do CPR, but I knew he was dead at that stage, I could feel it, there was no life in him."

Darren said he "couldn't comprehend what had happened" and that he felt both anger and confusion in the aftermath of the tragedy, reports the Irish Mirror.

Darren opened up about his late wife Nicola's battle with severe post-natal depression, revealing to Miriam O'Callaghan on RTE Radio One's Sunday With Miriam: "In Crumlin hospital, Nicola confided in staff there that she was of low mood, that she had no love or bond with Henry... that day, we had our first meeting, on 7 July (2020), with the Community Mental Health team for our region and that's where she was diagnosed with severe post-natal depression. For me, before that, there was no idea of it."

He continued, detailing the precautions he had to take: "I wasn't to leave Nicola alone with Henry, but was never informed as to why. So, this person you'd been together with for 17 years, I had to monitor full-time. When they'd have a bath, to increase that bond, I stood at the door and would constantly check on them. If she brought Henry upstairs to change him, I'd follow."

Reflecting on the aftermath and the support he received, Mr Coleman said counselling has been a lifeline, allowing him to "talk about things I never talked about before" and helping him realise that his late wife was not a "monster" but "a really, really ill person, a frightened person, who was screaming for help but not getting the help."

He emphasised the importance of keeping immediate family members informed about their loved one's treatment, particularly when it could impact a child's safety. He also stressed the need for open discussions about mental health.

He further stated: "One of the key recommendations from the inquest into Nicola and Henry's case back in September, the jury recommended that there be specialised psychiatric mother-and-baby units set up in Ireland."

"We need these open quickly. In Ireland, we have none. In the UK, they have 22. Why are Irish women being forgotten about and not having the same very, very key, important facilities? Statistics show one in five pregnant women will deal with mental health problems during pregnancy or in the year afterwards. Irish women are being forgotten about."

Don't miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond. Sign up to our daily newsletter

.