Belfast Telegraph

Alan Hawe 'killed family and himself over prospect of marriage ending'

A school vice-principal killed his family and himself as he faced the prospect of his marriage breaking up, his wife's relatives said.

Alan Hawe, his schoolteacher wife, Clodagh, and their three children Liam, 13, Niall, 11, and Ryan, six, were found dead in their home near Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, on the morning of Monday August 29 2016.

The 39-year-old father-of-three was also facing a "fall" from his position as a pillar of the community, his wife's family said.

Mrs Hawe, 40, who was found in her pyjamas and dressing gown on the sitting room sofa, had suffered axe and stab wounds.

The boys, who were found upstairs in their beds, suffered stab wounds.

An inquest into their deaths in Cavan courthouse heard Mr Hawe was troubled, depressed and severely mentally ill in the months before the deaths.

He took his own life after killing his wife and three boys.

A solicitor for Mary Coll and Jacqueline Connolly, Mrs Hawe's mother and sister, said Mr Hawe targeted his wife and eldest son first for fear they may fight back.

On the steps of the courthouse, lawyer Liam Keane said the killings were premeditated and calculated.

Flanked by the grief-stricken Mrs Coll and her surviving daughter Jacqueline Connolly, he said: "It is clear from the evidence presented at the inquest that Clodagh and her boys were killed in a sequence that ensured that the eldest and most likely to provide effective resistance were killed first, and they were executed in a manner that rendered them unable to cry out for help."

Mr Keane said the two-day hearing, which included harrowing evidence examining how the school teacher mother and her sons died, does not address why Alan Hawe "committed this savagery".

The solicitor referred to the psychotherapist David McConnell who held counselling sessions with Mr Hawe from March 15 to June 21 2016.

"His counsellor has said that he was concerned about his position as a pillar of the community," Mr Keane said.

"We are aware that he was concerned at his imminent fall from that position and the breakdown of his marriage."

The bodies of the Hawe family were discovered after Mrs Coll called to their home in Oakdene Downs, Barconey, near Ballyjmesduff, and saw an envelope on the back door warning for gardai to be called.

The jury of six women and one man returned verdicts of unlawful killing of Mrs Hawe and her three boys and suicide in the death of Mr Hawe.

The inquest was told the vice-principal last visited the psychotherapist and his GP on June 21 2016.

Mr McConnell said Mr Hawe gave no indication that he would harm himself or others. Dr Paula McKevitt said Mr Hawe attended her surgery complaining about a sore toenail.

He also told her he had washed his feet in bleach.

The GP said he was a little stressed about work and had not been sleeping.

Professor Harry Kennedy, clinical director at the Central Mental Hospital, was asked by Coroner Dr Mary Flanagan to review Mr Hawe's suicide note and reports from his therapist and GP.

He said: "The counselling notes from March to June last year indicate that Alan Hawe was troubled."

Professor Kennedy told the hearing that he believed that at the time Mr Hawe carried out the murder-suicide he had progressed from long-term depression to a severe depressive episode with psychotic symptoms.

"When people act in the course of severe mental illness, such as very severe psychotic mental illness, their judgment is severely impaired," Professor Kennedy said.

Referring to his review of the suicide note and the GP's and therapist's reports, Prof Kennedy said: "Hindsight is always a very unfair advantage."

Mr Keane praised the work of gardai in the case.

He also extended thanks to family, friends and neighbours in Virginia, Co Meath and Mrs Hawe's friends, colleagues and community where she taught in Oristown, Co Meath.

"We are aware of all those affected by these killings, especially the friends of Liam, Ryan and Niall and their parents," he said.

Mr Keane asked for the family to be given privacy to grieve with dignity.

At the close of the hearing, coroner Dr Mary Flanagan said she had never been at an inquest before where the foreman of the jury was almost brought to tears while trying to deliver the verdicts.

"I just want to express my deepest sympathies with the Colls and the Hawe families on this dreadful chain of events," she said.

"There are no words to describe the upset that befell your family."

Dr Flanagan said there was nothing she could say that could adequately sympathise with them.

"It's unimaginable what you have had to endure," she said.

The foreman of the jury added: "We have no words either, other than to say that we are absolutely so sorry."

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