Monday 23 October 2017

'It's a thin line and I crossed it tonight'

Shane Rogers' words to gardai after shooting GAA star James Hughes dead

Murdered GAA footballer James Hughes and Shane Rogers
Murdered GAA footballer James Hughes and Shane Rogers

A MAN who took his own life while in custody after confessing to shooting dead another man told gardaí that there was a “thin line” and he had “crossed it”, an inquest heard.

Shane Rogers (32) from Deerys Terrace in Inniskeen, Co Monaghan, was speaking to Sgt Kieran Moore having handed himself in after he fatally shot Crossmaglen GAA player James Hughes (35) in an incident near Dundalk on the night of December 11, 2011.

He died after hanging himself in a holding cell at Cloverhill Courthouse following a remand hearing on December 20, 2011. A report into the incident released earlier this year found that he had not been checked for almost an hour before he was found.

The inquest into his death at Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that nine days earlier Mr Rogers spoke to Sergeant Kieran Moore shortly after 4am and said he had shot two people and thought they were dead. Mr Rogers was speaking in a “calm voice”, he said. He told Sgt Moore that he had been sitting at a bridge for the previous ten minutes “with the barrel of his shotgun in his mouth” but “couldn’t do it” and wanted to hand in the weapon.

Mr Rogers drove to Carrickmacross Garda Station and was met by Sgt Moore who cautioned him.

“It’s a thin line, it’s a thin line and I crossed it tonight,” the dead man replied.

When Sgt Moore retrieved the gun, it was loaded. When he removed the cartridge Mr Rogers told him: “that was the one for me but I didn’t have the balls”.

Mr Rogers was subsequently charged with the murder of Mr Hughes and taken to Cloverhill Prison where he was held on a wing for vulnerable inmates.

The court heard that he told a number of people that he intended to take his own life following his arrest. Sgt Moore said that he overheard Mr Rogers talking to his sister in Australia and telling her not to come home right away but to “wait for his funeral”. He also heard him tell other family members that he was remorseful and would like to die, said Sgt Moore.

While being assessed on his committal to prison by nurse officer Elaine Dunne, Mr Rogers said that he felt remorseful and full of regret. “He didn’t see a bright future for himself. He was not able to guarantee his safety,” she said.

He later told his cellmate Uja Iwo that he wanted to kill himself. However, Mr Iwo told the court that Mr Rogers subsequently told him that he had “changed his mind".

When he was assessed by GPs and the psychiatric team at Cloverhill Prison, he denied any intention to harm himself. Community mental health nurse Fintan Caddow said that Mr Rogers told him that “those thoughts had passed”.

However, it was decided not to move him to the general prison population. He was moved to a shared cell in the vulnerable wing due to ongoing concerns for his safety and well-being and he remained on close observation while there.

The inquest continues.

By Gareth Naughton

Online Editors

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