Liam Neeson’s sister was planning to move her son home to care for him and was just putting the finishing touches to a specially-modified house when he tragically died five years after falling from a phonebox, MailOnline can reveal.
The Hollywood star’s nephew Ronan Sexton suffered catastrophic head injuries in a 20ft fall from the top of a telephone kiosk at Brighton Pier in June 2014. Tragically, the 35-year-old never recovered and was unable to walk or talk after the accident.
Ronan, the youngest of six children of Liam’s sister Bernadette, was later flown home to be closer to his family in Cushendall in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
But sadly, a family friend revealed today that he passed away as his devoted mother was making plans to have the facilities to look after him herself at home.
Ronan Sexton, the nephew of Hollywood star Liam Neeson, was partying with friends in Brighton in June 2014 when he suffered head injuries he never recovered from
Ronan Sexton (right) is pictured hugging his mum, and Neeson’s sister, Bernadette Sexton (second from right)
Ronan, pictured with a friend, was living in Worthing with his mother and her partner Harry, who died two years ago
The friend said: ‘He was in a nursing home as she was just finishing work on a new home with lifts and care facilities.
‘It just adds to the tragedy really that she has been through, she had hoped to bring him home and take care of him.
‘She’s been through the mill but the community has been rallying round the family, our hearts go out to them.’
Ronan had been living with his mother in Worthing, West Sussex when he had the accident in June 2014, reported to have been caused by a 4am dare that went horribly wrong.
He was cared for in care home nearby, before his mother moved back Northern Ireland. He was then looked after in a care home while he renovations were being made to his mother’s house.
Ronan climbed up these red kiosk on Brighton seafront but fell 20ft into this subway
His uncle, 66, who lives in the US, is said to be devastated by his nephew’s death and regularly jets back to the UK to see his mother and three sisters.
The friend of the family said that lots of well-wishers had been to Bernadette’s home this week to pass on their sympathies and added that Liam’s elderly mum – who Ronan called Nana Kitty – has been rocked by her grandson’s death.
The friend said: ‘The family are very private and they are very upset, as you can imagine, it’s been devastating for them.
‘His granny, Liam’s mum Kitty, has taken it very hard. The whole family is shattered.’
Ronan’s former school headmaster father Brian died 14 years ago. and it was understood he was a pallbearer at the funeral.
Brian, 56, had been the head of the independent Our Lady of Simon School in Worthing for 16 years, but retired in 2000.
Tragic: Neeson lost his wife Natasha Richardson in 2009 after she hit her head and died in a skiing accident
He died suddenly in hospital and his funeral – which Liam Neeson attended – took place in June 2005.
Brian was the first male head of the school – which has fees of up £4,350-per term.
The school is opposite the house where Ronan grew up with his mother Bernadette, in Worthing, West Sussex.
She, Ronan and her other children moved out of the £500,000, three-storey, four bed end-of-terrace just over a year ago.
Ronan had ambitions to make it in the entertainment industry just like his uncle Liam – but in music rather than acting.
He called himself Ro Diddley on Facebook – a play on the legendary American artist Bo Diddley – and just two months before his accident he changed his profile picture on the social media site to a promotional shot of him holding his guitar.
One friend called Liam Wyatt joked: “When’s the audition for Ireland’s next top boy band then?”
In 2014, Sexton was seriously injured during a night out in East Sussex with friends, when he fell 20 feet from the top of a telephone booth and hit his head
There is another poignant picture on his Facebook page of him posing on a snowboard on the slopes – Liam’s wife Natasha Richardson, the mother of his two sons, died from a head injury 10 years ago after falling during a skiing lesson on a piste in Canada.
The family friend also revealed that Ronan passed away in his sleep at the weekend and was cremated at Belfast’s Roselawn Cemetery after a humanist service on Wednesday.
The crematorium there is the only one in Northern Ireland and is where football legend George Best and former Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Lord Brookeborough were cremated.
European Cup winner Best died aged 59 after losing his battle with an alcohol addiction in 2005 and his ashes were interred beside his mother Annie at Roselawn’s graveyard after 100,000 mourners turned out to pay their respects at his funeral.
Basil Stanlake Brooke, 1st Viscount Brookeborough, died in 1973 aged 85 and after being cremated his remains were scattered on his beloved Colebrooke Park estate in County Fermanagh. He became the third Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in 1943 and held office for 20 years.
The tragedy came nine years after the death of Neeson’s wife of 15 years, Natasha Richardson, who suffered a fatal head injury during a ski trip in 2009.
And in yet more heartbreak for the family Ronan’s mother lost her partner Harry Shannon two years ago.
Father-of-two Neeson opened up about his wife’s death in an April 2017 interview with RTE, revealing that he threw himself into his work to cope with the loss.
He said: ‘I’m not good without work. I just don’t – I just don’t wallow too much. You know? And I just didn’t want to – especially for my boys – seem to be wallowing in sadness or depression’.
Neeson shared at the time that it remained an ongoing struggle with sadness for him and his two sons.
He said: ‘It hits you, it’s like a wave. You just get this profound feeling of instability… The Earth isn’t stable anymore and then it passes and it becomes more infrequent, but I still get it sometimes.
‘[Her death] was never real. It still kind of isn’t. There are periods now in our New York residence when I hear the door opening, especially the first couple of years… Any time I hear that door opening, I still think I’m going to hear her.’
Liam Neeson and family gather together prior to the funeral of his actress wife Natasha Richardson in New York in 2009 after her sudden death
The interview was prompted by the 2017 reprisal of Love Actually, the iconic 2003 romantic comedy where Neeson played a character whose wife had recently died.
Describing the time that had passed since the original film was shot, Neeson told Entertainment Weekly: ‘It’s 14 years ago now and we’ve all lived lives. Some of us have died. Oh, my dear friend Alan Rickman, God rest him. Some have gotten divorced. I’ve lost my wife.’
He added: ‘And, oh, sure, plenty of times I’ve thought about this film and my own life. Love Actually, that’s the way it is. That’s the tapestry of life.’
Richardson passed away at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, two days after hitting her head in a fall during a ski accident in Canada, from an epidural hematoma due to a blunt impact to the head, ABC News reported.
An ambulance showed up to treat Richardson at the time of her fall, but feeling fine at the time, she waved responders off and walked to her hotel.
Neeson is pictured in a scene from Love Actually with actor Thomas Sangster, who played his son in the film in 2003
‘When you have a head trauma you can bleed. It can deteriorate in a few hours or a few days,’ Yves Coderre, the operations manager for the ambulance service, told the Globe and Mail.
‘People don’t realize it can be very serious. We warn them they can die and sometimes they start to laugh. They don’t take it seriously.’
Less than two hours later, at 2.59pm, paremedics received a second call for help and showed up 10 minutes later. At that time, responders called the hematology department at Centre Hospitalier Laurentien in Ste-Agathe, and took the star in for treatment.
She was transferred first to Hôpital du Sacre-Coeur in Montreal, before being flown to Lenox Hill in New York on March 17, 2009.
Neeson, now 66, married the British stage and screen actor on July 3, 1994, when he was 42 and she was 31.
The Schindler’s list star and Richardson, who was a Tony Award winning performer, had two sons together, Micheál Richardson, who is now 23, and Daniel Neeson, who is 22.
Her death was announced the night that it happened, in a statement released by Neeson’s publicist.
‘Liam Neeson, his sons and the entire family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Natasha,’ the statement said.
‘They are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time.’
Their children were 13 and 12 at the time.
Following the death of Sexton over the weekend, parish priest Fr Luke McWilliams said the family had asked for privacy as they mourn their loss.