Probe into failure of suicide watch on hanged shotgun killer
TWO investigations were under way last night into the death of a shotgun killer, who hanged himself soon after a court appearance.
Accused Shane Rogers had been on suicide watch after warning last week that he could not live with himself following his arrest by gardai investigating the murder of GAA club star James Hughes.
His parents said last night that he was broken-hearted and full of remorse after the shooting.
Mr Rogers (32) was found dead by prison staff in a holding cell at Cloverhill courthouse in west Dublin at lunchtime, shortly after he had been remanded in custody until next month.
He had earlier been taken from his prison cell in the adjoining Cloverhill jail and brought through a tunnel to appear in the district court on a charge of murdering Mr Hughes (35), whom he regarded as a love rival.
Mr Hughes was hit by two blasts from a double barrelled shotgun as he was dropping a female friend home after a night out.
The victim had been sitting in a taxi with his friend, Patricia Byrne (21) outside her home at the quiet Cluain Ard, Lis na Dara estate, at Carrick Road, Dundalk, shortly before 4am on Sunday week.
She sustained minor injuries along with the taxi driver, Anthony Callan, from the initial blast. All three had been sitting in the front of the vehicle.
It is believed Mr Rogers had previously been in a relationship with Ms Byrne and became jealous when he spotted her socialising with her friend earlier in the night.
After he was cautioned by gardai in Dundalk station, he said: "I apologise to him and to his family and friends and to Trish Byrne.
"I am sorry for what I did. I cannot live with myself for doing this."
Mr Rogers, of Deery Terrace, Inniskeen, Co Monaghan, had been on suicide watch since he was remanded to Cloverhill prison last week when Judge Flann Brennan directed that he receive medical and psychiatric attention.
This meant that prison staff checked on him every 15 minutes while he was in his cell in the jail.
An internal investigation into his death by the Irish Prison Service will now determine whether he remained under observation yesterday while he was in the holding cell.
Mr Rogers was brought directly to the holding area after his court appearance and was found hanged from a light fitting when a prison officer checked on him at 12.50pm.
Staff immediately attempted to resuscitate him while they awaited an ambulance, which brought him to Tallaght hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly before 2pm.
Gardai investigating the murder were alerted and immediately notified the dead man's family.
Last night his parents Sean and Mary said they were devastated by their son's death.
"We have only learned of Shane's death this afternoon and we are totally devastated and in total shock over his tragic death," they said.
"We would like to make it known that Shane had been broken-hearted over the death of Mr Hughes and the injuries to Ms Patricia Byrne and Mr Anthony Callan.
"Shane was totally remorseful over what happened in the tragic events that Sunday morning."
The couple said they were also broken-hearted over the death of Mr Hughes.
They made the comments in a statement issued through the family solicitor, Martin Crilly, who said he knew Mr Rogers for 15 years and described him as "the backbone of the family".
"I had the highest regard for him. He looked after the younger members of the family and he was loyal to his family," the solicitor added.
As a garda investigation into the suicide continued last night, members of the family travelled to Dublin for a post-mortem examination in Tallaght.
One of his brothers, Kevin, and a sister, Bernie, are travelling home from Australia for his funeral later in the week.
After the shooting in Dundalk, Mr Rogers had contacted gardai in Carrickmacross and presented himself there.