Friday 23 February 2018

Double killer gets life term but family not given answers

Natasha Reid

THE family of a father and son brutally murdered by a man formerly considered a family friend have described how their lives have been shattered by the killing.

Thomas Barrett (33) was jailed for life yesterday after pleading guilty to murdering Michael Hanrahan (60) and his son Denis (27) at the family home.

Barrett has never offered any explanation for the murders.

Shane Hanrahan -- Denis's twin brother -- said every day was a struggle as they tried to rebuild their lives and their family home would never again be the "safe haven" they remembered in childhood.

"But our lives have been turned upside down and as hard as we try, we cannot," he said in a victim impact statement that was read out at the Central Criminal Court.

Barrett of Cleandries, Causeway, Co Kerry, was jailed for life after he pleaded guilty to murdering the farmer and his plasterer son at their farmhouse just outside Moyvane, in Kerry, on March 26, 2008.

Detective Inspector Daniel Keane told the Central Criminal Court that Barrett shot them several times.

"He (Barrett) perceived some slight," the garda said. "Mr Hanrahan Snr phoned Mr Barrett Snr and said he thought Mr Barrett seemed a bit down. . . it seemed to fester."

Shortly after 11pm on March 26, 2008, Barrett took his pump-action shotgun from its safe and put on an army camouflage vest, which contained six cartridges. He got into his car, where he had an army rucksack containing another 50 cartridges, a hunting knife and a crossbow.

He then drove the 23 miles to the cul-de-sac on which the Hanrahans lived, where he aroused the suspicions of a neighbour and turned around.

Barrett later returned to the Hanrahan bungalow and let himself in -- the key was always in the door. He found Denis, an old college friend, in bed and shot him in the leg.

This woke Michael Hanrahan, who went to his son's bedroom. In the meantime, Barrett went to the living room to reload his gun. He returned to the bedroom and shot both men dead.

"The pump-action shotgun had to be reloaded three times," explained the detective inspector. "It could hold only three cartridges."

Barrett then went to the bedroom of the house's other occupant -- one of Denis' younger sisters. He turned on the light but there was nobody there and he drove home.

Before he left his car, he injected himself with an anti-anxiety drugs used to treat pigs. He went into the house and called out for his mother, who came downstairs and found him getting sick. He was taken to hospital and was transferred voluntarily from the A&E to the psychiatric ward.

At 7.30am, Denis Hanrahan's workmate went to the farmhouse when the plasterer failed to turn up to meet him for a lift. He heard his colleague's mobile phone ringing inside but didn't go in.


A cousin and neighbour who was passing by went inside and discovered the bodies.

Three days later, Barrett confirmed to his psychiatrist that he was involved in the murders.

The Central Mental Hospital examined Barrett and found no mental disorder but found traits of pervasive resentment and a sensitivity to slights on his character.

Denis Hanrahan's twin brother Shane (left) gave a victim impact statement on behalf of his three sisters -- Kayrena, Marion, and Aine -- and himself. Their mother had died of breast cancer in 1996.

He said the murders had done "an incalculable amount of damage" and the repercussions were immeasurable.

"We will never be able to comprehend what has happened," he said.

"Denis was the best brother, son and friend anyone could ever ask for. He was a hero to his sisters and myself.

"Our father was quite simply a rock. He raised all five of us entirely on his own. He was always there and could always be depended on."

He described as excruciating the pain he and his sisters experienced knowing that their father wouldn't be there when any of them got married or had children.

"He won't be there to walk any of his daughters down the aisle," he said.

He said occasions such as Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries were a cruel, harsh reminder of their intense pain.

"Dad's and Denis's murders have cast a dark shadow over our home on the hill," he said, adding that there was no justification for their murders.

"Words fail to capture the unique pain deep within our being. It lives on. It is ongoing. There is no closure.

"Today is every day for us. We can't forget about our beloved father and our beloved brother," he concluded.

The Barrett family expressed their deepest sympathy to the Hanrahan family through Patrick Marrinan, defending. Mr Marrinan said his client had asked him to express his regret.

"His plea has brought finality in a legal context," said Mr Marrinan. "It's unusual but that's his decision and that of his family."

Mr Hanrahan said that there was no closure for him and his sisters. Mr Justice Paul Carney imposed two life sentences on Barrett to run concurrently.

Irish Independent

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