Tyrone GAA captain Sean Hackett denies murder his dad but admits intending to kill him

Tyrone GAA captain Sean Hackett denies murder his dad but admits intending to kill him

THE mother of a Tyrone minor GAA football captain on trial for murdering his father sobbed today as she relived the terrifying moment the teenager tried to strangle her.

Eilis Hackett told his son’s trial the incident happened a short time after Sean Hackett had broken up with his first and only girlfriend.

The 19-year-old is on trial for deliberately shooting dead his father Aloysius at their Aghindarrah Road family home in Augher, Co Tyrone on January 4, 2013 with two high velocity rounds to the head.

He denies the charge of murder and also two charges of possessing a .22 calibre Czech-made hunting rifle and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

Mrs Hackett took the witness stand at Dungannon Crown Court and told the jury that her son was “someone she was very proud of. He was a great boy and never gave us any bother in his 18 years”.

She told defence counsel Jim Gallagher QC that he started to go out with a girl from school and they were never apart, giving each other lifts to school in their cars and were “very much together all the time”.

However, the mother-of-four said that in late 2012 she noticed a change in her son, who she said had become very quiet, staying a lot in his room.

Mrs Hackett broke down in tears as recalled how one Sunday afternoon in October 2012 she was at home painting in the hall around 2 pm when her son came into the house.

She said her husband, a former chairman of St Macartan’s GAA club in Augher, Co Tyrone, had gone out to a football match.

“Sean said to me to come out to the garage as there was something wrong with the tumble dryer. I didn’t want to go out to the garage because I’m a afraid of mice.

“He left it at that and then 15 minutes later he came back in and said ‘will you not come have a look at the tumble dryer. There’s something leaking’.

“I went out to the garage and the tumble dryer was round the door and he kept looking and pointing in the direction of where this leak was.

“I was reaching over and I then felt this arm on my arm. He pulled me close and sobbed, and sobbed and sobbed. I said: ‘What’s wrong Sean? Tell me what’s wrong.’

“He said: ‘Me and (Miss X) have broken up’.”

Mrs Hackett said she told her son not to worry about it, that he was still a young man and that he would find someone else. She said he replied: “I don’t want anybody else.”

She added: “I was turning to go out of the garage when I felt a lead being thrown over my neck. I ran out of the garage door and Sean was saying ‘I didn’t mean it, I didn’t mean it’. I said to him: ‘You did mean to do it. What’s going on?’

“He said that he wanted me to go to heaven to look after him and granda.”

The sobbing mum said that her son’s grandfather had died some time before and Sean Hackett was very close to him, even getting his car after passing his driving test.

“I told him: ‘I don’t want to go to heaven. I want to stay here with youse.”

“He said: ‘I hope you will always be very proud of me’. I said that I would always be proud of him.”

The jury heard that Mrs Hackett took her son into the family home where his sister Aileen was sitting in the living room.

“He told Aileen all of what he had done. Aileen kept talking to him.”

Asked by Mr Gallagher QC did she believe her son coaxed her out to the garage in a bid to kill her and she would be in heaven.

Mrs Hackett replied: “Yes. He said that I could look after him better there with granda. He was extremely close to his granda.”

She said that before the incident her son was very close to her and said he would come to work with her.

Asked if she could given an explanation for his action is the garage, Mrs Hackett told trial judge Mr Justice Ben Stephens: “There is no reason at all as to why he would want to kill me.

“I thought there was something seriously wrong. We were very concerned. We didn’t know what we were dealing with.”

She said her husband made an appointment the following day with their family GP.

“He told the doctor the same thing about me being in heaven and looking after him,” she told the jury. “I said: ‘I don’t want to go to heaven’.”

Mrs Hackett told the defence counsel that the doctor said her son didn’t need any medication but recommended that he see a counsellor in Omagh.

She said she and her son later drove separately to the appointment in Omagh where he spent around an hour and a half with the counsellor.

The jury heard that following the incident in the garage Mrs Hackett had found a change in her son.

Gunshot murder victim Aloysius Hackett found in a pool of blood, court hears

Gunshot murder victim Aloysius Hackett found in a pool of blood, court hears

“He was always going out he was not in the house any more and was out playing pool. He would keep himself to himself and started to go out and play pool.

“He would be very snappy at time and very vague in his answers.” she added.

Mrs Hackett told the jury that her husband, who was known as ‘Wishie’, and son were “almost like brothers” and that he and his father had been going to football matches since Sean was the age of three.

“They were always talking football. Sean was always going to football matches with Wishie right up until this incident. The football brought them very close together.”
The mother said that on the evening of the murder, she was going to a GAA club ladies night out in Omagh and Sean was having his dinner and her husband was cooking a steak and everything was normal.
Later that evening she got a phonecall to say that “something dreadful” had happened at home and went to her neighbour’s house of Marian and William McKenna where her son Sean was with the police.
The court heard she entered a bedroom in the house where her son was being spoken to by a detective before being arrested for the murder of his father.
She said that she was told that her son “wanted to speak to me in private” and the detective agreed.
“There was a single bed in the room and we lay down and hugged and cuddled each other. We were both crying,” recalled an emotional Mrs Hackett.
Sitting feet away in the dock, flanked by a male and female prison officers, Sean Hackett also broke down in tears.
“I asked Sean did his father see him and he said ‘no’.”
Mrs Hackett confirmed to defence cousel Jim Gallagher QC of a conversation on Janauary 3 at the family home.
“The previous evening Sean said that he had got an invitation to football in America in the summer.”
The mother-of-four said that after his son was remanded in custody, he was granted compassionate High Court bail to attend the funeral of his father on Wednesday, January 9, 2013, in the company of his solicitor and Tyrone senior football manager Mickey Harte.
The court heard the family had been told that Sean Hackett had written a letter while on remand at Hydebank Young Offenders Centre in Belfast which he wanted read out at the funeral Mass in Augher.
However, Mrs Hackett said that it was decided that the letter would instead be read out during a graveside oration.
She then read the letter to the jury. It said: “To my special dad. This is just a few words I want to say to you as we send you to rest in heaven.
“Throughout my life you have been a gentleman, a role model, manager and an inspirational figure to me.
“All that I have done and achieved in my life I offer up to you. It is you I must thank.
“This is just a short note. He has been a great dad. I love him and I will miss him in my life.”
Mrs Hackett said that she tries to visit her son at least once a week in Hydebank Young Offenders Centre.
“We were the perfect family. Sean loved his dad and vice versa. Wishie loved him.”
In cross examination, prosecuting counsel Ciaran Murphy QC asked Mrs Hackett: “Have you ever ever asked him straight out the reason why he killed your husband?’
She replied: “No. I have not asked him.”
The jury also heard from the deputy state pathologist for Northern Ireland, Alistair Bentley.
He said he carried out a post mortem examination on Mr Hackett’s remains on Sunday, January 6,. 2013.
Mr Bentley said that the victim had sustained two gunshot wounds to the head.
He said he believed the second .22 calibre round, which lodged between the brain and the skull, would have “caused the fatality within a short period of time”.
The case for the prosecution has now ended.
The trial continues.
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