One by one, Alan Hawe killed his wife and sons - only little Ryan didn't fight back
Harrowing evidence from the inquests into the deaths of five members of a Co Cavan family suggested that all but the youngest boy struggled to defend themselves from their father.
On August 29 last year assistant school principal Alan Hawe (40) killed his wife Clodagh (39) with a knife and a hatchet, and then stabbed their sons Liam (13), Niall (11) and Ryan (6) in their home at Oakdene Downs in Ballyjamesduff.Hawe family inquest 'I felt that he had done something terrible', says Clodagh's mum Garda tells Hawe family inquest hears of scene of horror
Yesterday's inquest heard that he took measures to silence the young boys as he killed them.
The knife that he used was found lying on the pillow above little Ryan's head.
He then laid out letters and documents on the kitchen table, put a note on the back door telling whoever arrived next not to come in, but to call gardai instead, and took his own life in the house.
Members of Clodagh's family cried openly and held each other as the cold and inexplicable facts of the atrocity were recorded at Cavan Coroner's Court.
Deputy State Pathologist Michael Curtis told Cavan coroner Dr Mary Flanagan the conclusions of the post mortem examinations he carried out on the five members of the family.
He said Clodagh Hawe suffered severe wounds to her head, throat and neck.
Dr Curtis said a wound to her right hand had fractured some small bones, and suggested that she may have been holding her hand on her head in a defensive action when she was struck.
"Death ensued rapidly," said Dr Curtis, adding that toxicology tests showed no presence of alcohol or drugs in Clodagh's system.
Liam Hawe, the eldest child, died from a stab wound.
An injury to his left arm and hand indicated he may have been defending himself as his father killed him.
Dr Curtis said death ensued rapidly, and that death was as a result of a stab wound to the neck.
Niall was killed in the same room, also by a stab wound.
Injuries to the middle finger of his right hand indicated that Niall also may have tried to defend himself as his father killed him.
Again, Dr Curtis said death would have occurred rapidly.
The pathologist then moved on to deal with the death of the youngest boy, six-year-old Ryan.
He said the wound to the child's neck that killed him was different to those that killed his older brothers. There were no wounds to indicate that little Ryan tried or was able to defend himself.
Clodagh's sister Jacqueline and mother Mary became audibly emotional and struggled to comfort each other at this point.
Coroner Mary Flanagan asked Dr Curtis if there was any evidence that the manner in which the injuries that were inflicted may have been deliberate, in that they rendered the victims silent.
"I find it very difficult to believe it is coincidental ... they were unable to make sounds," said Dr Curtis, adding that it was difficult to be certain in the circumstances.
Alan Hawe was sober when he murdered his family and killed himself.
Dr Curtis said there was no sign of assault or restraint on Alan Hawe's body, and his blood and urine tested negative for drugs and alcohol.
Coroner Dr Flanagan asked Dr Curtis if there was any indication of the sequence in which Alan Hawe had killed his wife and children. "It is impossible to say with certainty, but by dispatching Clodagh and the older boy first it would make a physical challenge less likely," he responded.
Dr Flanagan adjourned the hearing following Dr Curtis's evidence.
"I think we have heard enough evidence for one day," she said.
A legal representative for the Hawe family said that none of Alan's family had attended the inquest, and he would be making a statement in connection with the family at today's hearing.
Today's hearing is expected to hear from Alan Hawe's doctor, his counsellor, and a professor from the Central Mental Hospital, Dublin.
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