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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Man shoots dead his ex-girlfriend before turning the gun on himself

Five children are left bereaved as love affair falls apart and results in senseless murder-suicide


A LOVE affair which turned to hate ended in a tragic double shooting in a quiet village days before St Valentine's Day.

Two lives have been ended and two families torn apart, leaving five children distraught, after Robert Hartrey shot his former girlfriend Sarah Regan dead in an isolated rural village before killing himself.

Gardai were last night trying to piece together the events which led to the fatal shootings of Sarah Regan, 30, from Co Roscommon and her one-time partner Robert Hartrey, 45, from Grangemockler, Co Tipperary, in the rural Roscommon village of Cloonfad.

The pair had broken up several weeks ago and Mr Hartrey, the father of three children from a previous relationship, had arranged to meet Ms Regan to pick up some of his belongings.

He had asked a friend to drive him up from Co Tipperary. He left her in a pub as he went to meet his ex-girlfriend.

But Mr Hartrey had also taken a loan of a .22 rifle from another friend, saying he wanted it to go hunting.

Instead, he shot Ms Regan -- the mother of two children aged eight and 11 from a previous relationship -- as she sat in her Volkswagen Passat car at Springvale, a 'ghost' housing estate.

Mr Hartrey then drove down the road in a similar-type car, parked up and shot himself in front of Cloonfad's national school.

Gardai were alerted when his woman friend found him dead in his car. They believe that the shootings took place between 9.30pm and midnight on Friday. They first found Mr Hartrey's body in his car after midnight. Then, an hour-and-a-half later, they discovered Ms Regan's body in her car a short distance away.

Both scenes were preserved and a garda technical team was sent to examine the scene, along with the office of the State Pathologist.

The scenes of both shooting incidents were cordoned off for forensic examination by gardai and both bodies were removed for post-mortem examinations before lunchtime yesterday.

Gardai said that they were still at the "very early stages" of their investigation but indicated that they were "not looking for anyone else at this time" in relation to the incidents.

It is understood that the tragedy unfolded following the break-up in recent weeks of a relationship between the couple.

Ms Regan had two children, Shannon, 11, and Dylan, 8, Webster. She had returned from Grangemockler last summer, with Mr Hartrey, to live in Cloonfad. He lived there briefly.

Sources said the couple had lived in Grangemockler for several months. Mr Hartrey was from that area. He had built a house with his previous partner and they had three children, two boys and a girl. He had previously been employed in the building trade.

Ms Regan's family had returned to Ireland after a period in Manchester. Her father Tom lives in the Cloonfad area.

A solitary bouquet of flowers was placed at the entrance to Springvale, a small housing estate of just 11 houses on the Ballyhaunis Road which is largely unoccupied.

Local people were at a loss yesterday to describe their reaction to the tragedy that had unfolded.

"Devastating news", "shocked", "terrible" were just some of the words used to react to the double tragedy that took two lives and has shattered the lives of two families and communities.

"I just saw her in the post office last Wednesday, she was a beautiful-looking girl, tall," said local man Noel Keane.

"Her parents come from Cloonfad, her dad is from only over the road. I knew him very well, even in Manchester. I'm numbed over it."

He added: "Shocked, horrendous, we had a lot of tragedies around the years but nothing like that.

"It is hard to come to terms like that especially in a rural area, a peaceful community of nice country people."

The Fine Gael councillor in Grangemockler, Joe Brennan, who knew Mr Hartrey, said the parish was in shock after the tragedy. "The whole community is just stunned by this news," he said.

Roscommon Fine Gael councillor Michael McGreal, who lives not far from Cloonfad, said: "She has not lived locally until recently, people have told me. Her family and extended family would be very well known and respected people. It is a rural community and understandably there is a great amount of shock and upset. There is a great community spirit in Cloonfad."

Sunday Independent

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