Inquest hears how Alan Hawe killed his wife and three sons before killing himself.
An Irish policewoman broke down in tears as she revealed to an inquest the details of a shocking murder-suicide in Co.Cavan in 2016.
The bodies of Alan Hawe (40) and Clodagh Hawe (39) were discovered in two separate rooms in their home in Ballyjamesduff in August 2016, while the bodies of their three sons Liam (13), Niall (11) and Ryan (6) were also discovered in two separate bedrooms.
Gardaí believe Clodagh Hawe to have been stabbed by her husband before he strangled and stabbed their three young boys in their sleep. Alan Hawe, who was a vice principal in a local elementary school, then proceeded to take his own life by hanging.
A Co. Cavan inquest has now heard how the deputy headteacher killed his wife in the family living room and slit his three sons’ throats while they lay in their beds. Pathologist Michael Curtis stated he believe Clodagh and the eldest son Liam could have been targeted first for fear they would fight back.
“The impression I get is that, essentially, working on the basis that dispatching Clodagh and the older boy first, he would have rendered the possibility of a physical challenge less likely,” Curtis said. He confirmed the deaths would have been rapid.
Garda Aisling Walsh broke down in tears as she told the inquest of arriving at the scene in the family’s home.
Clodagh Hawe had suffered severe head and neck injuries and a small ax and a knife were found alongside her body. She had ax and stab wounds and a wound and two fractured bones in her right hand suggest she could have attempted to fight back.
The two eldest boys Liam and Niall were found in the bedroom they shared and another knife was found in the bedroom. They had suffered stab wounds and both had injuries that looked to be defensive.
“They had no signs of life. They had their duvets on them,” Walsh told the inquest.
The youngest son Ryan was found alone in his bedroom also covered by his duvet. Another knife was found on his pillow. The pathologist said there were similarities to how the boys died but it was difficult to confirm if this was coincidental.
Clodagh’s mother, who visited the house on that Monday morning, found a note attached to the backdoor advising any visitors to contact the Gardaí and not to enter the house themselves. Arriving at the house, Gardaí discovered the five bodies along with a possible second confession note left by Alan Hawe. The letter was sealed and addressed to family relatives.
Mary Coll, Clodagh's mother, also spoke to the inquest, revealing the details of the last few hours of the family’s life.
Fighting back tears, she said “I was just about to put the key in the door when I saw the note
“I told them, I think Alan has done something terrible, that Alan had killed them all. I knew it was Alan's handwriting.
“I stood on the road for the guards and the rest you know.”
Clodagh Hawe has been due to drop off her two youngest sons at their granny’s house that morning but never arrived. Coll traveled to her daughter’s house when she had not been able to get in touch with Clodagh or her husband.
The family had visited Coll’s house the previous evening and she states that everything had appeared normal but Alan Hawe had not been looking forward to going back to work at school the next morning after the summer vacation.
Hawe, who taught at Castlerahan National School, an elementary school also attended by his two youngest sons Niall and Ryan, is reported to have planned the murders which occurred in the early hours of a Monday morning. Gardaí immediately began to investigate the mental health of the father in the lead up to the deaths, talking to friends and family members about the lead up to the new school year which could have shown him to be under stress.
If you or someone you know is suicidal or in emotional distress, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255). Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your confidential and toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals.