Solicitor describes Clodagh Hawe's family as 'extraordinarily dignified'

Update 5.35pm: Liam Keane, the solicitor who represented, Mary Coll, the mother of Clodagh Hawe who along with her sons who were found dead at their home in Cavan, has said that Mary Coll and her family are glad that the "ordeal of the inquest is over".

Speaking on Drivetime on RTÉ Radio 1 this evening Mr Keane said the Coll family are "extraordinarily dignified".

He said Clodagh Hawe and her mother Mary Coll enjoyed an extremely close relationship, and that it was a mother's instinct that gave Mrs Coll the "feeling that something terrible had happened" when she came to the door of the Hawe house on the morning of August 29th 2016, "coupled with knowledge of things that her daughter would have had confided in her".

Clodagh Hawe's mother Mary Coll (right) and sister Jacqueline Connelly (left) outside Cavan Court House as a statement is read on their behalf by their solicitor Liam Keane.

Mr Keane said Alan Hawe would have known that Mary Coll would be the one to find that note which was pinned to the door of the house. He said "it was clear from the inquest" that Alan Hawe had explained to his counsellor "that his position as a pillar of the community was under threat". Mr Keane said that the Colls would have been aware of this and that Mr Hawe believed his marriage was at the point of breakdown.

Mr Keane said Mary Coll would have known that her daughter was "in some difficulty". Mr Keane said that nobody could have foreseen what had happened. An inquest examines the how, where and when but not the why.

On whether or not the family would like to see anything done by the State, medical services or others, Mr Keane said that Mary Coll, "would, in time, hope to address issues in a personal way" which may help to prevent what happened to her daughter and her grandsons from happening again in this country.

Clodagh Hawe's mother Mary Coll (right) and sister Jacqueline Connelly (left) outside Cavan Court House following the inquest into the deaths of the Hawe family last year. Photos: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Update 5pm: Diagnosis of depression does not ease our pain, parents of Alan Hawe say

The parents of killer husband and father Alan Hawe have said the diagnosis of his depression does not ease the pain.

Stephen and Olive Hawe, the vice-principal's parents, said the inquest has shed some light on the murder-suicide after 16 months struggling to comprehend what happened in the family home.

"Last August we received news no family should ever have to hear," they said.

"In one night we lost three beautiful grandchildren, a beloved daughter-in-law and our son Alan.

"Death's dark door opened and we have struggled over the last 16 months to comprehend how this came to pass."

The Hawes referred to Professor Harry Kennedy's review of medical records, counselling notes, and the suicide note that was left by Mr Hawe and his retrospective diagnosis of mental illness.

Clodagh and Alan Hawe

"We have had some light shed upon that darkness with the insight gained from thorough examination of the report of Professor Harry Kennedy and his opinion that Alan suffered from severe depressive illness," they said.

"It does not make the pain and loss any easier for us."

Mr and Mrs Hawe did not attend the inquest over the two days and issued the statement through their solicitor.

They thanked Coroner Dr Mary Flanagan and said she had done extraordinary work along with her staff to hold the hearing.

They also praised gardai involved in the case and those who were first on the scene at the Hawe family home in Barconey near Ballyjamesduff and said the liaison officers helped them through "very dark days".

"We thank all those who have taken the time in the last year to contact us with messages of support and prayer from all parts of the country, they have brought us great solace," they added.

Update 2.09pm: Clodagh's family say inquest 'does not address why Alan Hawe committed this savagery'

Clodagh Hawe's sister Jacqueline Connelly outside Cavan Court House.

The family of Clodagh Hawe have said she and her three sons were executed in a way that made them unable to cry out for help.

Her husband Alan Hawe killed his family at their home in Cavan in August 2016 before taking his own life.

A jury at their inquest has returned verdicts of unlawful killings for Clodagh and her three boys and a suicide verdict for Alan Hawe.

A medical expert said he believes Alan Hawe had a severe mental illness at the time of the killings.

Solicitor Liam Keane spoke outside the inquest on behalf of Clodagh Hawe’s family.

"The inquest does not address why Alan Hawe committed this savagery but his counsellor has said 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," he added.

Update 12.38pm: Hawe inquest: Verdict of unlawful killing returned; Alan Hawe severely mentally ill

A verdict of unlawful killing has been returned in the inquest into the death of Clodagh Hawe and her three sons.

A verdict of suicide has been returned for Alan Hawe.

The inquest heard how Alan Hawe killed his family and was himself troubled, depressed and severely mentally ill in the months before the murder-suicide.

Alan Hawe, his schoolteacher wife Clodagh and their three children Liam, 13, Niall, 11, and Ryan, six were found dead in their home near Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, on the morning of Monday August 29 2016.

Mrs Hawe, 40, who was found in her pyjamas and dressing gown on the sitting room sofa, had suffered axe and stab wounds.

The boys, who were found upstairs in their beds, suffered stab wounds.

An inquest at Cavan courthouse was told that Mr Hawe, 39, had seen a psychotherapist and his GP in the months before the murder-suicide. He was stressed about a dispute with a colleague in school as the academic year drew to a close in June 2016, the hearing was told.

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.

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.

The bodies of the Hawe family were discovered after Mary Coll, Clodagh Hawe's mother, called to the Home in Oakdene Downs, Barconey, and saw an envelope on the back door warning for gardai to be called.

Mr Hawe's GP Paula McKevitt told the hearing that she last saw him in her surgery on June 21 last year.

Mr Hawe had been to see a psychotherapist David McConnell on the same day.

The counsellor said the vice-principal had wept when he said to him: "'People think of me as a pillar of the community'. He paused and said 'if only they knew'."

Mr McConnell said Mr Hawe gave no indication that he would harm himself or others. Dr 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.

"His focus was clear and his behaviour was normal," Dr McKevitt said. "Nothing in the consultation raised any concern about his mood that day." She added: "Mr Hawe did not have any overt psychological or mental problems leading up to the events on August 29."

Dr McKevitt said Mr Hawe was concerned about an issue in work. "He was concerned about a conflict that had arisen with a colleague and he reported feeling isolated as a result," she told he inquest.

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."

Directing the jury of six women and one man, Dr Flanagan said she would not reveal the contents of Mr Hawe's suicide note.

"I don't intend to disclose the contents of the notes to the inquest," she said.

"However, I have given the contents of the note to the jury to assist them in their consideration of verdicts."

Dr Flanagan told the jury that they should consider verdicts of unlawful killing for Mrs Hawe and her three boys and suicide for Mr Hawe.

"They have been sworn in to return a verdict consistent with the evidence they have heard," Dr Flanagan said.

The coroner said it was the jury's prerogative to offer a recommendation or rider that they feel may help prevent a repeat of the tragedy.

The jurors deliberated for about 10 minutes before returning verdicts as the coroner advised.

The foreman said they had one recommendation to make.

"It will be to raise awareness of mental health issues within the work environment," the inquest was told.

Update 12.13pm: ‘People think of me as a pillar of the community. If only they knew'

A man who killed his wife and three sons had 10 counselling sessions in the months before he died.

The second day of the inquest into the deaths of Clodagh Hawe and her three sons is underway in Cavan.

They were murdered by their dad Alan Hawe in August 2016 who then took his own life.

Psychotherapist David McConnell told the hearing he first met Alan Hawe in March 2016 and had ten counselling sessions with him.

He said he was open during his sessions and placed a high value on family life and on being a good husband and father.

He said Alan Hawe was stressed in his last session in June and was in fear of the shame of being less than perfect.

He said Alan Hawe said ‘People think of me as a pillar of the community. If only they knew.’

On that last session, Alan Hawe also went to the GP who said she knew nothing of his counselling sessions.

She said he was stressed, had mouth ulcers and a toenail problem.

He had insomnia and was concerned about a conflict that had risen with a work colleague.

An external medical expert Profesor Harry Kennedy said in his opinion, at the time of the killings Alan Hawe had progressed from a long-standing depressive illness to a more severe depressive episode with psychotic symptoms.

He said Alan Hawe seemed to have delusional beliefs that were not rooted in reality.

He said in the course of a severe mental illness people’s judgement is severely impaired and he believes this is what happened in this case.

Earlier: The inquest into the death of a mother and her three sons in Cavan will resume this morning.

Clodagh Hawe and her three boys were killed by their dad Alan last year near Ballyjamesduff.

He then died by suicide.

Day one of the inquest heard from Clodagh Hawe’s mother Mary Coll.

She alerted gardaí that something was wrong after she found a note pinned to the back door of her daughter’s house asking for gardai to be called.

The bodies of Clodagh, her three boys and her husband Alan were found inside the house.

The Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis also gave evidence yesterday about their cause of deaths.

While forensic gardaiísaid a sealed letter and a loose letter with Alan Hawe’s handwriting were found on the kitchen table.

Medical experts are expected to give evidence when the inquest resumes this morning at 10am.


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