Spurned lover planned every detail of ex-partner's murder
Published 13/02/2012 | 05:00
A MAN who shot dead his ex-girlfriend before turning the gun on himself meticulously planned the murder-suicide.
Robert Hartery (45) shot mum-of-two Sarah Regan (30) a number of times while she sat in her parked car in the remote village of Cloonfad, Co Roscommon, close to Ballyhaunis, late on Friday.
A post-mortem conducted on the young mother found she died of head injuries. It is understood she had been shot at least three times in the head.
It has now emerged that Ms Regan's former boyfriend planned her brutal killing because he couldn't come to terms with their split some weeks earlier.
He borrowed the gun used to murder Ms Regan and got a lift in another woman's car to Co Roscommon, where he lured his former girlfriend into a cul-de-sac in a ghost housing estate.
Mr Hartery and Ms Regan had lived together in a house in Grangemockler, Co Tipperary, for around a year.
Yesterday, the house -- midway between Kilkenny and Clonmel -- was abandoned and the windows were boarded up.
Ms Regan decided to move back to Cloonfad to help to take care of her father, who is suffering from ill health, some months ago. Mr Hartery went with her, and her two children from a previous relationship, Shannan (11) and Dylan (8).
The relationship turned sour some weeks ago and the couple split -- forcing Mr Hartery to return to Grangemockler, where he moved in with his mother.
The Irish Independent has learned that Mr Hartery planned every detail of the murder-suicide -- and even asked his mother's care assistant to give him a lift to Cloonfad in the belief that he was collecting belongings from Ms Regan's house.
It is believed the father of three children from a previous relationship had visited Roscommon to see Ms Regan the week before he murdered her, but she was not at home.
Mr Hartery borrowed a .22 rifle from a friend saying he wanted it to go hunting. However, when he arrived in Cloonfad he left the carer in a local pub, saying he was going to meet Ms Regan.
He went to Springvale -- a ghost housing estate -- where the young mum had arrived in her silver Volkswagen Passat car. He fired a number of shots while Ms Regan was still sitting in her car.
He then drove down the road, parked the carer's car in front of Cloonfad national school and shot himself.
Detectives believe the shootings took place between 9.30pm and midnight on Friday. They found Robert's body in his car after midnight, and an hour-and-a-half later discovered Sarah's body in her car a short distance away.
Garda Gerry McDonagh was the first officer to arrive on the scene. The off-duty garda had received a call from a member of the public and he went to the scene with his wife, a nurse, to see if they could assist.
Yesterday, Mr Hartery's mother Kathleen, sister Ann-Marie, brother Frank, and three children, were being comforted by friends and neighbours after the horrific events.
Friends of Mr Hartery expressed shock at what he had done, saying they were unaware that he had taken the break-up so badly.
"He was still socialising, he was unemployed, living with his mother and going through a hard time but we had no idea what was going on inside his head. If he had talked to us, maybe this wouldn't have happened," one man said.
In Cloonfad, Ms Regan's heartbroken family and friends gathered outside Keane's Funeral Home. The mourners were sobbing and too upset to speak.
Nearby flowers surrounded a single lit candle at the spot where the mother-of-two was murdered.
At the entrance to the estate a card attached to one a bunch of flowers read: "Sarah, RIP. You'll be missed so much, lots of love, Linda, Sarah, Bernie, Paul, John Regan."
A short distance down the road, a candle was surrounded by floral tributes. "We are all going to miss you so much, sleep tight," read one card.
Another stated: "My dear Sarah, I gonna miss you. . . Rest in peace, darling, love you loads, never forget you, love always, Paul."
The quiet village of Cloonfad was in mourning last night as friends and family gathered to comfort one another in the wake of the tragedy.
Local councillor Michael McGreal described Cloonfad as a tightly knit community. "Cloonfad is a very nice peaceful place," he said.
Although Sarah had lived away from Cloonfad for sometime, Mr McGreal said she had a lot of family in the area. "It's an extended family of cousins and in-laws and I hope they can comfort each other," he said.