Legal teams make closing submissions in Hackett trial

Family members  including Mother Eilish  and children , Aileen, Conor and Kevin Hackett  at Dungannon Court
Family members including Mother Eilish and children , Aileen, Conor and Kevin Hackett at Dungannon Court

Sean Hackett, who shot his 60-year-old father Aloysius, is either a dangerous, wicked, manipulative murderer, or a mentally disturbed teen on the possible verge of schizophrenia, caught up in one of the most extraordinary and complex criminal cases ever, Dungannon Crown Court heard yesterday.

The conflicting descriptions of the 19-year-old former GAA footballing star came from prosecution and defence lawyers in their closing submissions to the jury of six women and six men as they prepare to retire to consider their verdict in the week-long trial.

Hackett admits shooting his father dead in the driveway of their Aghindarrah Road family home in Augher on January 4 last year, but denies his murder.

Both sets of lawyers agree that the main issue in the case was his mental state at the time of the killing.

His defence claim the then 18-year-old, “little more than a child”, was suffering from an abnormal mental functioning, and given this “diminished responsibilty” he should be acquitted of murder, as to do otherwise would simply create another injustice for the Hackett family.

However, the prosecution in turn say the teenager is nothing short of a murderer, who slaughtered his father after executing him in a brutal and ruthless way and then came up with a “cock and bull” story to explain it away.

Prosecution QC Ciaran Murphy began and ended his jury submissions by attacking Hackett’s refusal to give evidence on his own behalf, in a case which the lawyer contended “cries out” for an explanation from him.

In between, the prosecution rubbished the former Tyrone GAA minor captain’s claims of having suffered from a mental abnormality of mind, accusing him instead of being totally rational and logical in knowing what he was doing – before, during and after the horrific shooting of his father.

“He killed his father and he intended to kill his father. He planned it and he executed it in a brutal and ruthless way and left Aloysius Hackett slaughtered, shot in the back, and left in a pool of blood, then came up with a cock and bull story,” said Mr Murphy.

For the defence, Jim Gallagher QC said that Sean Hackett “is not seeking to avoid his responsibility for his father’s death, let me make that clear”, pointing out that “manslaughter is not a soft option”, carrying as it does a maximum sentence of life.

The defence lawyer said the key issue was whether the teenager was functioning normally at the time, or abnormally.

“To say there was nothing wrong with Sean Hackett is something simply impossible to accept,” he added.