Belfast Telegraph

GAA footballer: I killed dad but was suffering with depression, accused told police

Gaelic footballer blasted dad twice in head with rifle borrowed from friend

By Adrian Rutherford

A Tyrone GAA footballer accused of murdering his father has accepted that he shot him dead and that he intended to kill him, a court has heard.

A jury was told Sean Hackett shot his father Aloysius twice in the head with a high-velocity rifle which he borrowed from a friend.

The 19-year-old, who captained the county's minor GAA team, denies murder and two counts of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life.

However, opening the prosecution case yesterday, Ciaran Murphy QC said it was not disputed that Hackett shot his father dead.

"The defendant also accepts that he intended to kill him," he said.

Mr Murphy QC said Hackett paused and reloaded a .22 calibre rifle between firing the shots, despite the horror of what he must have seen.

The opening day of evidence at Dungannon Crown Court heard how Mr Hackett Snr, a former chairman of Augher St Macartan's Gaelic Athletic Club, was found shot dead outside the family home at Aghindarragh Road shortly before midnight on January 4 last year.

Paramedics found a pool of blood two metres wide around the deceased's head.

His son initially told police that there was "something wrong" at the house and suggested there may have been a burglary.

However, he later told police: "I did it. I shot him."

Mr Murphy QC told jurors: "There is no dispute between the parties as to the facts that Sean Hackett shot his father in the head using a rifle on January 4, 2013 – a rifle which he had obtained from Ronan Mulrine, a friend of his.

"There was no other person involved in these alleged offences. The defendant accepts that he intended to kill his father."

The court heard police were alerted after receiving a report from Ambulance Control around 11.50pm on January 4.

PSNI officers found Mr Hackett Snr at the rear of the house, lying on his back with a bunch of keys to his Citroen Xsara in his right hand.

The court heard Hackett reported the death to Marian McKenna, a neighbour and close family friend, and her son, Cathal.

Mr McKenna drove to the Hackett home and found the deceased's body.

Although Hackett initially suggested there may have been a burglary, he later told police that he had killed his father.

Hackett was arrested and, during interview, told police he had been suffering from depression.

The court was told he read a prepared statement which said: "I was involved in an incident which resulted in the death of my daddy, whom I loved very much.

"In recent months I have been suffering from depression and I've been seeking medical treatment. That is all I can say at this time."

He made no further comment in subsequent interviews.

Mr Murphy QC concluded: "Aloysius Hackett died as a result of being shot in the head.

"The fatal wounds were inflicted by his son, Sean Hackett, loading and reloading a .22 rifle in order to shoot dead his father.

"It was a crime, we say, he had planned.

"He had obtained the weapon and clearly he knew how to use it accurately.

"He did what he did with the ability to load and reload that weapon despite the horror of what he must have seen before him after the first shot had been inflicted.

"And despite the horror of doing what he did to his own flesh and blood, his own father, Sean Hackett, we say, is guilty of the murder of Aloysius Hackett."

The case continues.

'Sean seemed as if he had suffered a dreadful shock'

Sean Hackett allegedly told a friend he needed to borrow his father's rifle because he wanted to shoot rabbits, the trial heard.

Jurors were told that Ronan Mulrine has already pleaded guilty to supplying the weapon used to kill Aloysius 'Wishie' Hackett.

However, prosecuting QC Ciaran Murphy stressed there was no suggestion that Mr Mulrine had any knowledge of Hackett's intention to harm his father.

The trial heard Mr Mulrine and his father Gabriel were in Newcastle at the time of the murder.

Mr Mulrine snr told detectives that around 7am on January 5, 2013 his son said he'd got a text telling him Mr Hackett was dead.

Around three hours later, Ronan got a second text saying Mr Hackett had been shot dead.

"I said I was surprised because I knew Wishie didn't have a gun," Mr Mulrine snr told police. "I said to Ronan it must have been a robbery."

Mr Mulrine said his son seemed quiet. Later, his son said he might need to go home.

"He said Sean had my gun," Mr Mulrine told police.

"He said he'd opened the gun cupboard for Sean.

"I asked Ronan why the hell he gave Sean the gun.

"Sean had told him it was to shoot rabbits or something."

Earlier, PSNI sergeant Jim Carlisle told the court how Hackett originally claimed his father may have died as a result of a botched burglary.

During initial questioning, Hackett told him he felt there was "something wrong" when he arrived back at the family home.

"He was saying there had been a burglary and that his father may have disturbed persons committing a burglary at the house."

But another officer, Detective Inspector Brian Foster, said about six hours after the shooting Sean Hackett asked to speak to him. He told the court that when he asked why, Hackett replied: "I did it."

Mr Foster said he asked him what had happened and he was told, "I shot him" and that the gun was in the car.

One of the first people to speak to Hackett after the incident was Marian McKenna, a neighbour.

She recalled Hackett coming through the back door, saying, "Daddy's dead, daddy's dead."

"He was in a very distressed state," she said.

Mrs McKenna said his face was "pure white", and it appeared he had suffered "a dreadful shock".

Her son, Sean's friend Cathal McKenna, went to investigate the scene, and found the body.

"I went over to the body and just checked for vital signs and touched his cheek – it was very cold at that stage," he said.

He said Sean Hackett appeared shocked and distressed.

"Sean was very emotional and distressed – he was physically sobbing," he added.

The case continues.

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