Belfast Telegraph

GAA player Sean Hackett believed killing a parent would help 'settle him'

BY ADRIAN RUTHERFORD

Teenager Sean Hackett believed that killing one of his parents would "settle him down a lot more", a court has heard.

The former Tyrone minor captain, who admits shooting dead his father Aloysius last January, also said possessing a gun made him feel happy and in control.

The sixth day of his trial heard details of the 19-year-old's mental turmoil in late 2012, including bouts of heavy drinking and suicidal thoughts.

It also heard from a psychiatrist who concluded that Hackett was not suffering an abnormality of the mind when he killed his father.

Dr Fred Brown, a consultant forensic psychiatrist, said there were insufficient grounds to support a diminished responsibility defence.

Earlier, a second expert who disputes that conclusion, said Hackett was suffering mild depression, but understood killing his father was an abhorrent act both morally and legally wrong.

The court also heard that, when asked about the most disturbing thing in his life, Hackett referred to breaking up with his girlfriend, school exams and drifting from friends – but did not mention trying to strangle his mother or killing his father.

The former captain of the Tyrone Minor team, admits shooting his 60-year-old dad twice in the head outside the family home near Augher in January 2013, but denies murder. Yesterday, Dungannon Crown Court heard from Dr Brown, who interviewed Hackett three times between February 6 and 19 this year.

The psychiatrist said Hackett told him he "never really had a great relationship" with his father.

Although he loved his dad, he felt much closer to his mother, and felt Aloysius's death on January 4 last year brought he and his mother closer together.

"It hadn't changed us for the worse," he told the psychiatrist.

The court heard Hackett's year-long relationship with his girlfriend ended after she suspected him of being unfaithful. By September 2012, the pair were no longer together. The following month, Hackett tried to strangle his mother with a television lead. He told the psychiatrist it had been "on his mind" for a week.

He said: "In my head it was a sense of power if I actually went and done this."

Hackett added: "I was going to kill someone – it didn't matter how or when. I knew it was going to be one of my parents."

He felt killing someone "would settle you down a lot more".

According to Dr Brown, Hackett said it "felt easier" killing his parents, and that he couldn't do it to his brothers Kevin and Conor, or sister Aileen.

Hackett admitted he was drinking and gambling heavily, had lost interest in GAA and, by mid-2012, was contemplating suicide.

He recalled a night in Omagh where he imagined jumping off a bridge, but said he never came close to actually acting on it.

Two weeks before killing his father, Hackett was unable to sleep. He got up, cried, and again thought of suicide.

Hackett told Dr Brown of borrowing the high-velocity rifle from his friend, Ronan Mulrine.

He told the psychiatrist: "You felt so in control, you felt happy."

He added: "Once you knew it was going to work, it wouldn't be long. You could kill one of your parents at any time."

Even though he briefly returned the weapon, Hackett said he knew the gun "was only a text message away".

By New Year's Day 2013, Hackett had obtained the weapon for a second time. On January 4 he crouched behind a wall with it as his mother returned home. Later, he thought about shooting his father as he ate his dinner.

Both times he couldn't go through with it.

Dr Brown said it was clear he was planning to kill, but was able to exercise self-control. Later, however, Hackett shot his father twice as he returned home.

The case continues.

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