Belfast Telegraph

Parents of murder-suicide perpetrator tell of their pain

By Conor Feehan

The family of Alan Hawe have broken their silence on the impact of the horrific day that saw their son murder his wife and three children before taking his own life.

In a statement circulated after the jury at the inquests into their deaths found Hawe had killed himself after stabbing his wife Clodagh and the three boys to death, his parents Stephen and Olive Hawe said what had emerged at Cavan Coroner's Court "does not make the pain and loss any easier".

"In August last year we received news no family should ever have to hear. In one night we lost three beautiful grandchildren, a beloved daughter-in-law and our son Alan," the statement read.

"Death's dark door opened and we have struggled over the last 16 months to comprehend how this came to pass.

"We have had some light shed upon that darkness with the insight gained from thorough examination of the report of Prof Harry Kennedy and his opinion that Alan suffered from severe depressive illness. It does not make the pain and loss any easier for us," they added.

Hawe (40), originally from Co Kilkenny, met Clodagh when they were both in teacher training college in 1996, and their relationship blossomed quickly.

The pair got engaged in 1999, and married in 2000.

"We sincerely thank the Coroner, Dr Flanagan, for the extraordinary work she and her staff have put into this inquest," the statement continued.

"We pay particular tribute to the members of An Garda Siochana under the leadership of Supt Leo McGinn and Det Insp James O'Leary."

Stephen and Olive Hawe had a special and specific mention for the first gardai to arrive at the scene on the morning of August 29 last year.

"We extend our heartfelt thanks to the Garda first responders, gardai Alan Ratcliffe and Aisling Walsh, and the paramedics who attended the tragic scene.

"We thank our Garda family liaison officers Lisa Stephens and Sgt Ted Hughes who have helped us through very dark days, and we wish to thank Michael Lanigan, our solicitor, for his work and assistance throughout the last year."

Hawe was a man who felt he had to be perfect but was beset by a hidden and worsening depression, the inquest heard.

His GP said she was not aware he was suffering from depression and that she was unaware he had been seeing a counsellor.

Hawe's counsellor David McConnell said he was aware that he was stressed, but not to a level where he would harm himself or others.

But Professor Kennedy, who did not know Hawe and was working on a retrospective analysis of medical reports and the suicide notes, painted a picture of a deeply troubled man who could appear to others to be functioning normally.

Mr McConnell said: "At our last session Alan had arrived stressed and we talked through his difficulty in a supportive way.

"Alan then said, 'people think of me as being a pillar of the community. If only they knew'. He wept as he said this," the counsellor said.

"The stress for Alan appeared to be from the fear of shame of being seen as less than perfect."

Professor Kennedy, of Trinity College Dublin and the Central Mental Hospital, was asked by coroner Dr Mary Flanagan to give a post-mortem opinion on Hawe's mental state.

In his opinion, Prof Kennedy said, "it was much more likely than not" that at the material time, Hawe was suffering from a long-standing depressive illness".

He categorised this as severe depressive episodes with psychotic episodes.

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