Belfast Telegraph

Video: I didn’t mean to kill GAA star, jealous ex tells police

By Deborah McAleese

A jealous ex-boyfriend who shot dead GAA star James Hughes, believing he was having an affair with his former girlfriend, has told police he had not intended to kill the father-of-three.

The 32-year-old man is due to appear in Dundalk District Court this morning to be charged with the murder.

As large crowds of mourners arrived at Mr Hughes’ family home in Crossmaglen yesterday, the man was being questioned at Carrickmacross garda station about the shooting.

The man, from Inniskeen, Co Monaghan, is understood to have confessed to opening fire on a taxi that his ex-girlfriend and Mr Hughes were travelling in early on Sunday in Dundalk. The Belfast Telegraph understands he has claimed that he had not meant for Mr Hughes to die.

An eyewitness has described how she saw a man walk over to the taxi as it pulled up outside the 21-year-old woman’s house in the Lis na Dara estate in Dundalk at around 4am on Sunday and open fire. She said the attack happened in “a blink of an eye”.

“He went over and shot into the minibus. Within four or five seconds he calmly walked past the front of the house and walked over to the car. You could just see the barrel of the gun. He looked into the taxi, picked up the gun and shot again,” she added.

The woman and the taxi driver were also injured in the attack. Their injuries are not thought life-threatening.

Mr Hughes’ friend Tony McEntee told the Belfast Telegraph that the GAA All-Ireland club championship medal winner had not been in a relationship with the woman in the taxi.

“This was not a love triangle. Tony was simply sharing a taxi with the girl. He has been in a relationship with his partner Jenny for about 10 years. They were living together and had two children together. James loved Jenny and his children very much. He was simply sharing a taxi,” he said.

The body was still not released to his family yesterday as post-mortem examinations were continuing.

Scores of mourners gathered at his family home where a marquee was erected to accommodate the crowds.

“We were friends all my life. We went to school together and grew up together.

“He was the most genuine, honest man you could ever meet. He was the only man you could really rely on to do anything for you. Nothing was ever too much bother for him, no matter what you asked of him he would help you out. He was always there for you,” said Mr McEntee.

“His family is just distraught. Everyone is still in shock and can’t believe that this could have happened to him.”

During their inquiries, gardai took possession of a legally held shotgun and also seized a van for technical examination.

Mr Hughes was captain of Crossmaglen Rangers GAA club in south Armagh and won three All-Ireland club medals with the team.

A farmer by profession, Mr Hughes was well-known in both south Armagh and north Louth and had been involved in fundraising earlier in the night to heighten awareness of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS), which claimed the life of his mother, Joan, earlier this year.

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