Belfast Telegraph

Nightmare scenario for grieving widow

By Adrian Rutherford

Breathing deeply and clutching a tissue for comfort, Eilish Hackett was living every parent's worst nightmare. A grieving widow but also a devoted mother, she was hurting for two people she cared about deeply.

Just a few feet away, in the dock of Dungannon Crown Court, the son she adored was on trial accused of murdering the man she loved.

At times Mrs Hackett struggled to keep her emotions in check, silently wiping away tears as the facts of the case were outlined.

Through the opening day of evidence, Mrs Hackett occupied the same seat at the front, right-hand corner of a packed public gallery.

To her side were her three other children, sons Kevin and Conor and daughter Aileen.

As Hackett was led into court number one shortly before 10.30am yesterday, she smiled and mouthed: "Hello Sean".

Her son, dressed in black trousers, a white shirt and black tie, waved back in acknowledgement before taking his place in the dock.

Hackett stared straight ahead through the 40-minute opening address by prosecuting barrister Ciaran Murphy QC. Behind him the family's eyes were fixed on the barrister as he told the jury of six men and six women there was no dispute that Sean Hackett had shot dead his father, Aloysius, last January.

Mrs Hackett looked towards the ground when Mr Murphy said her son also accepted that he intended to kill Mr Hackett.

Three seats along, Aileen Hackett – Sean's sister – wiped away tears as she heard how paramedics found her father's body on the blood-spattered yard of the family home.

In his opening remarks, Mr Murphy warned jurors they cannot allow sympathy for either the victim nor the accused to affect their judgment.

He said it was the prosecution's case that they would be satisfied as to the guilt of Sean Hackett.

Mr Murphy said Mr Hackett Snr had died as a result of being shot in the head by his son. He said it was a crime which Sean Hackett had planned. He said Sean Hackett had obtained a weapon and he knew how to use it accurately.

He said Hackett was able to reload the gun for the second, fatal shot, despite the horrific injuries which the first would have caused.

Addressing the jury directly, Mr Murphy said it was the prosecution's case that Sean Hackett was guilty of the murder of his father.

Throughout the opening address, Hackett sat motionless in the dock.

Nor did he show any emotion as a series of friends, neighbours and work colleagues took to the witness stand in the afternoon.

Many talked warmly about a shy, respectful teenager who had a gifted ability as a GAA footballer.

They included Colin McCaughey, the manager of Augher St Macartan's club, who said he was "well mannered, a well-rounded individual". He referred to Hackett's role in helping the club win promotion to Division One of the county league.

As the opening day drew to a close, Hackett was led back into custody by prison staff.

Glancing briefly to his left, he nodded to his family. Mrs Hackett smiled warmly, whispering: "I love you," as he was led away.

Belfast Telegraph

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