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Murder-suicide suspected after family of five found dead in house

Published 29/08/2016

Gardai are carrying out an investigation but not looking for anyone else
Gardai are carrying out an investigation but not looking for anyone else

A family of five found dead in their countryside home in the Irish midlands were most likely victims of a murder-suicide, investigators believe.

The bodies of primary school deputy principal Alan Hawe, aged in his 40s, and his school teacher wife Clodagh, aged in her 30s, and their three sons were discovered at the house near Ballyjamesduff, in Co Cavan.

It is believed the husband and wife were found downstairs at Oakdene Downs in the townland of Barconey, while the boys - Liam, 13, Niall, 11, and Ryan, six - were upstairs in their bedrooms.

Garda assistant commissioner John O'Driscoll said they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.

"We believe all the answers are within that house - so therefore the most likely scenario is that one person in that house may have caused the death of the others," he said.

"All the circumstances will be explored but as it stands at the moment that is the position."

Mr Hawe, believed to be from Co Kilkenny originally, was deputy principal at nearby Castlerahan National School, which was due to start back after the summer break.

Niall and Ryan were both pupils at the school and the eldest boy Liam was a past pupil.

Mrs Hawe, from Co Cavan, taught at Oristown National School in Co Meath.

Locals said the family were out and about in the close-knit community on Sunday and gave no indication that anything was wrong.

"Nothing had happened prior to this grim discovery this morning that gave rise to anyone - including An Garda Siochana - having any suspicion that anything was untoward and this family were engaged with the community and seen yesterday," said Mr O'Driscoll.

"None of the activity and interaction with other people gave rise to any suspicion as to what was to happen."

Investigating gardai, who described the case as very sensitive, have found no evidence that a firearm was used.

A technical examination being carried out at the property - which has been sealed off as a crime scene - and follow up post mortem examinations are expected to give a more definitive answer as to the cause of the deaths.

A number of objects found in the house are being subjected to "detailed technical examination".

The alarm was raised at around 10:45am on Monday after someone, thought to be a relative, called to the house but got no answer.

Two officers dispatched to the scene from Monaghan Garda station gained entry to the house and made the discovery.

Investigators are continuing to talk to neighbours and the extended family of the victims to piece together clues as to what happened.

The family were well known in the area and involved with the local Castlerahan Gaelic Games Association (GAA) club.

Mr Hawe was a treasurer and fundraiser.

Paddy Smith, a local councillor, said the deaths have been very distressing to all who knew the family.

"This has come as complete and utter shock to everybody in the area and everybody who knew the family because they were a very steady, hard working family," he said.

"It is a complete shock, out of the dark, people are just unable to grasp or comprehend what has happened."

Mr Smith added: "They are a very hard working and tight knit community, people just don't know what to say, they are shell shocked at this terrible tragedy."

Anne Foley, principal of Castlerahan National School, described the deaths as "a terrible tragedy for the family, our school and our community.

"Alan was a valued member of our school staff and community," she said.

"Niall and Ryan were pupils in our school and Liam was a past pupil. They were wonderful children who will be greatly missed by all who knew them."

Ann O'Kelly Lynch, principal of Oristown National School, where Mrs Hawe taught, said: "Clodagh was a much loved and valued teacher in our school and will be greatly missed by all who knew her."

Psychologists have been drafted in to assist teachers in both schools in helping pupils deal with the tragedy.

Several hearses arrived at the scene during Monday as the bodies were removed in coffins.

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