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Friday 15 December 2017

Harte: cut in jail term for GAA player who shot his dad is a relief

Alan Erwin

Tyrone GAA boss Mickey Harte has said a young player who shot his father dead will be able to "reclaim his life now" after his sentence was reduced by three years.

Senior judges ruled yesterday that former Tyrone GAA star Sean Hackett should serve seven years instead of 10 before he can be considered for release on licence.

Backing fresh medical evidence that the 21-year-old is suffering from a delusional disorder, the judges held that his culpability for killing Aloysius Hackett was not as high as suggested at his trial.

During the trial last year, Mr Harte described the teenager as "a very quite, unassuming, lovely young gentleman, very warm and very caring".

Mr Harte said he had his "eye on him" as a future senior county player and added that Hackett, as both a club and county footballer, had a "lot to look forward to".

Hackett had previously captained the Tyrone minor GAA team.

Mr Harte, who visited Hackett several times in prison, said last night that he should get the help he needs.

"This will certainly be a relief for this young man and for his family," he said.

"It will offer him every opportunity, I think, to reclaim his life now, and you would hope that he will be able to do that now with the proper help that he might get. It is now a question of him being able to get that help."

Although the Court of Appeal resisted defence arguments for a hospital order, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said the Department of Justice should also urgently consider making a prison transfer to ensure Hackett is treated for his condition.

Hackett was challenging the life sentence with a minimum 10-year tariff imposed for the manslaughter of his father, Aloysius, at the family home near Augher, Co Tyrone, in January 2013.

A jury found him guilty last year on the grounds of diminished responsibility after acquit- ting him of murder.

Mr Hackett was shot twice in the head on the driveway of his home. His son admitted carrying out the shooting but consistently denied murder.

At his trial it was set out how he had suffered depression in the preceding months.

Appealing the sentence imposed, his legal team submitted that he comply with a hospital order if the court considered it an appropriate alternative.

Up to five psychiatrists backed the view that Hackett was in a delusional state of mind when he carried out the killing at the age of 18.

One of those experts called to give fresh evidence was Dr Carine Minne. She told the court that Hackett had been harbouring a secret need to kill either of his parents.

Irish Independent

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