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Saturday 15 December 2018

'Sorry for how I murdered them all' - Alan Hawe's final note confessing to killing wife and three sons

  • Hawe left note insisting, 'Clodagh and the boys were happy'
  • School vice principal claimed he had 'no other choice'
The three brothers - Ryan, Niall and Liam - celebrate a birthday at the family home in Castlerahan, near Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan. and inset Clodagh Hawe
The three brothers - Ryan, Niall and Liam - celebrate a birthday at the family home in Castlerahan, near Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan. and inset Clodagh Hawe
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

ALAN HAWE apologised for brutally murdering his wife and their three kids in a note he wrote after killing them - but claimed he had no other choice.

The assistant school principal (40), his schoolteacher wife, Clodagh (39), and their three children Liam (13) Niall (11) and Ryan (6), were found dead in their home near Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, on the morning of Monday August 29, 2016.

"I am sorry for how I murdered them all but I simply had not other way," he wrote in a note found at the family home.

The note was addressed to his parents and siblings, and to Clodagh's mother and sister.

Clodagh Hawe with her sons Niall, Ryan and Liam on a holiday in Venice
Clodagh Hawe with her sons Niall, Ryan and Liam on a holiday in Venice

An inquest into the deaths of the five people found that Clodagh and her three children were unlawfully killed, and that Hawe took his own life.

Read more: Nicola Anderson at Hawe inquest: Scant closure for two families left grappling to understand

Speaking outside the courtroom yesterday, his wife's relatives said Hawe faced the prospect of his marriage breaking up.

The father-of-three was also facing a "fall" from his position as a pillar of the community, his wife's family said.

The inquest into their deaths in Cavan courthouse heard Hawe was troubled, depressed and severely mentally ill in the months before the deaths.

However, while details of the lengthy letter he left after the brutal killings were given to the jury and some of the expert medical witnesses, they were not read out in court.

The five-page letter was just one of a number of written items left by Hawe, including a note he taped on the back door of the house that read: "Please do not come in. Please call the gardai."

Details of the five-page letter have been obtained by today's Irish Daily Star newspaper.

They include that Hawe

*Did not want to leave his three boys as orphans

*Felt he was suffering from a form of psychosis

*Insisted that "Please believe me that on this day Clodagh and the boys were happy".

Alan Hawe killed his wife Clodagh and their children Liam, 13, Niall, 11 and Ryan, six
Alan Hawe killed his wife Clodagh and their children Liam, 13, Niall, 11 and Ryan, six

The note also refer to Hawe's anxieties over his work performance as a teacher - while the inquest heard yesterday that he had told his doctor he was stressed following a conflict with a colleague.

The details of the letter have emerged after a solicitor for Mary Coll and Jacqueline Connolly, Mrs Hawe's mother and sister, yesterday said Mr Hawe targeted his wife and eldest son first for fear they may fight back.

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Clodagh Hawe's mother Mary Coll and sister Jacqueline Connolly leaving the inquest on Tuesday. Photo: Mark Condren

On the steps of the courthouse, lawyer Liam Keane said the killings were premeditated and calculated.

Flanked by the grief-stricken Mrs Coll and her surviving daughter Jacqueline Connolly, he said: "It is clear from the evidence presented at the inquest that Clodagh and her boys were killed in a sequence that ensured that the eldest and most likely to provide effective resistance were killed first, and they were executed in a manner that rendered them unable to cry out for help."

Mr Keane said the two-day hearing, which included harrowing evidence examining how the school teacher mother and her sons died, does not address why Alan Hawe "committed this savagery".

The solicitor referred to the psychotherapist David McConnell who held counselling sessions with Mr Hawe from March 15 to June 21 2016.

"His counsellor has said that he was concerned about his position as a pillar of the community," Mr Keane said.

"We are aware that he was concerned at his imminent fall from that position and the breakdown of his marriage."

It is understood that the five-page letter by Hawe illustrates his inner turmoil, but does not give any reason for the horrific killings he carried out.

Jacqueline Connolly, a sister of Clodagh Hawe, and their mother, Mary Coll, at the inquest in Cavan Coroners Court.
Photo: Tony Gavin
Jacqueline Connolly, a sister of Clodagh Hawe, and their mother, Mary Coll, at the inquest in Cavan Coroners Court. Photo: Tony Gavin

The letter is understood to be disjointed and rambling.

The bodies of the Hawe family were discovered after Mrs Coll called to their home in Oakdene Downs, Barconey, near Ballyjmesduff, and saw the envelope on the back door warning for gardai to be called.

The jury of six women and one man returned verdicts of unlawful killing of Mrs Hawe and her three boys and suicide in the death of Hawe.

The inquest was told the vice-principal last visited the psychotherapist and his GP on June 21 2016.

Mr McConnell said Mr Hawe gave no indication that he would harm himself or others. Dr Paula McKevitt said Mr Hawe attended her surgery complaining about a sore toenail.

He also told her he had washed his feet in bleach.

The GP said he was a little stressed about work and had not been sleeping.

Professor Harry Kennedy, clinical director at the Central Mental Hospital, was asked by Coroner Dr Mary Flanagan to review Mr Hawe's suicide note and reports from his therapist and GP.

Tue.jpg
Prof Harry Kennedy at the Inquest into the deaths of Hawe family at Cavan Court House. Pic: Mark Condren.

He said: "The counselling notes from March to June last year indicate that Alan Hawe was troubled."

Professor Kennedy told the hearing that he believed that at the time Mr Hawe carried out the murder-suicide he had progressed from long-term depression to a severe depressive episode with psychotic symptoms.

"When people act in the course of severe mental illness, such as very severe psychotic mental illness, their judgment is severely impaired," Professor Kennedy said.

Referring to his review of the suicide note and the GP's and therapist's reports, Prof Kennedy said: "Hindsight is always a very unfair advantage."

Mr Keane praised the work of gardai in the case.

He also extended thanks to family, friends and neighbours in Virginia, Co Meath and Mrs Hawe's friends, colleagues and community where she taught in Oristown, Co Meath.

"We are aware of all those affected by these killings, especially the friends of Liam, Ryan and Niall and their parents," he said.

Meanwhile, speaking after the conclusion of the inquest solicitor for the sister and mother of Clodagh Hawe asked for the family to be given privacy to grieve with dignity.

At the close of the hearing, coroner Dr Mary Flanagan said she had never been at an inquest before where the foreman of the jury was almost brought to tears while trying to deliver the verdicts.

"I just want to express my deepest sympathies with the Colls and the Hawe families on this dreadful chain of events," she said.

"There are no words to describe the upset that befell your family."

Dr Flanagan said there was nothing she could say that could adequately sympathise with them.

"It's unimaginable what you have had to endure," she said.

The foreman of the jury added: "We have no words either, other than to say that we are absolutely so sorry."

Anyone affected by issues raised in this article can contact Samaritans on 116 123, Pieta House on 1800 247 247, Childline on 1800 66 66 66, or text "support" to 50101, and Women's Aid on 1800 341 900.

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