Tuesday 22 October 2019

'We had to wait over a year to see his letter' - family of murdered Clodagh Hawe call for full inquiry

  • Clodagh Hawe (39) and her sons, Liam (13) Niall (11) and Ryan (6) were killed by their husband and father, Alan Hawe (40) who subsequently took his own life
  • 'I got into the car and my stomach was sick. I saw the magpies on the road and I said: 'please God, don't let anybody else be dead' - Clodagh's mother Mary describes the morning she discovered they had been killed
  • Mary and Clodagh's sister Jacqueline have called on Garda Commissioner to set up a special investigation unit for familicide
The home of the Hawe family. Inset: Clodagh Hawe (39) pictured with her sons Liam (13), Niall (11) and Ryan (6)
The home of the Hawe family. Inset: Clodagh Hawe (39) pictured with her sons Liam (13), Niall (11) and Ryan (6)
Claire Murphy

Claire Murphy

The family of murdered Clodagh Hawe and her three sons have called for an investigation into their deaths after their legal requests for copies of the garda files were officially refused.

Clodagh Hawe (39) and her sons, Liam (13) Niall (11) and Ryan (6) were killed by their husband and father, Alan Hawe (40) on August 29 2016 in Virginia, Co. Cavan. Alan Hawe subsequently took his own life.

Clodagh's mother Mary Coll and sister Jacqueline Connolly have spoken in a RTÉ Claire Byrne Live special about their unanswered questions.

Four weeks ago Mary and Jacqueline were officially refused their legal request for copies of the garda files from the investigation into the murders of their daughter and sister, and grandchildren and nephews. They are now calling for a new and full inquiry into the murders of Clodagh, Liam, Niall and Ryan Hawe.

Jacqueline said that although they never found out why Alan Hawe killed his wife and three children, they had "bits and pieces of information".

"He has said in his own words that he was caught red-handed and we do know that he was looking at pornography....

Presenter Claire Byrne with Clodagh's mother Mary Coll and sister Jacqueline Connolly
Presenter Claire Byrne with Clodagh's mother Mary Coll and sister Jacqueline Connolly

"We've had sight of the counselling notes and he had said he was masturbating somewhere that he shouldn't have been... So we have pieces of information but we don't know who caught him.

"We do know, in the June, he cancelled all his counselling sessions and this all happened the day before he was to return to school," she said. "He said that it was easier for them to die than to have to live with the truth of what he was doing."

They are calling on Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, to set up a special investigation unit for familicide and family annihilation as they felt they didn't have sufficient support.

"There was no initial support, I remember the Monday myself and mam trying to contact people and there was nobody there," said Jacqueline.

Read More: 'I think Alan did something terrible' - mum of Clodagh Hawe tells inquest she 'knew something was wrong' 

"There was no initial person with us on the day to say, you know, this has happened and take time or anything like that.

"It was the media that was informing us more so than anybody else initially."

The family want all information gathered in the course of an investigation shared as soon as practicable with the next of kin.

They propose that immediately after the conclusion of an inquest in the case of a familicide, that a book of evidence is published and that Tusla, The Child and Family Protection Agency, is responsible for independently monitoring all such cases and maintaining research on familicide perpetrators.

"Two weeks before the inquest we got a copy of his letter which was 16 months after it happened," said Jacqueline. "Having to wait over a year, as we did, to have sight of the complete murder/suicide letter is wrong on so many levels."

Mary and Jacqueline told how Alan told his wife that he was accessing porn and it emerged in the inquest that he was dressing in Clodagh's underwear and his final letter outlined how he feared consequences of his actions.

"He said the counsellor knows the rest. We still don't know why, after a full investigation we are left with these questions," Jacqueline said.

“We can see from reading the letter he had moved the couch to have the back of it facing that Clodagh wouldn’t find him coming behind her.

Read More:  Read in full: Family of Clodagh Hawe release statement after inquest verdict returned  

"It would seem that he killed Clodagh first and he sat and he wrote five pages about how he felt, and how the truth was going to come out eventually and he reassured us that if it was any consolation that they were happy,” she added.

"And he then killed the boys and he came downstairs then and he wrote some more. And then he transferred money and he went about his business while his family were dead around him.

They have called on the Minister for Justice Charles Flanagan to amend the Succession Act, 1965, as the act currently makes the perpetrator, or if deceased, their family a beneficiary of the estate.

In a statement released following the interview on Claire Byrne Live, a spokesperson for Minister Flanagan said: "The Minister would welcome a submission from the family (of Clodagh Hawe) on any changes in legislation they believe are necessary. He would be very happy to receive it and to have it analysed by his officials and the Attorney General"

They want a review of the Coroner’s Act and laws surrounding exhumations as currently the family of the perpetrator control all decisions.

"The next day after the funeral we went to the graves and the horror of what we’d done, the stupor in our trauma, we had buried him with them. We were initially told it would be no problem to have him moved but then we realised that the exhumation could not happen Alan Hawes’s next of kin applied for him to be moved

And they called on the State Authorities and Agencies, the public and the media not to automatically assume that a man who murders his partner and children perpetrated such a crime because they were mentally ill.  They believe the murders were premeditated and meticulously planned and it is wrong to suggest they can be explained away as a violent, murderous act caused by depression.

"I wanted to shout from the rooftops, that’s not the truth, that’s not what happened. We’ve been controlled since this happened by our decency, our sense of decency but it’s not easy to sit and talk about this but we just feel that people need to be aware of the truth and that is the truth. We just need answers to the questions.

"You know, he was caught, who caught him, what was he doing, where was he doing it, why did he feel the need that he had to wipe out his whole family, what was so bad that he was doing," said Mary.

"He never missed time from work, he was never sick. He had a position of responsibility. He showed no signs of depression, he was out, GAA, football, out and about."

"He said in his letter 'if it’s any consolation, we were happy'. Clodagh was happy, the boys were happy, we were happy. It’s very rare that you would hear someone suffering from depression say that they were happy. Alan Hawe was attending his GP for five years and she didn’t diagnose him with depression," Jacqueline said.

They support Women’s Aid in their call for proper training and resources to enforce the coercive control element of the new Domestic Violence Act 2018.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article please contact:

Samaritans on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.ie

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