Sean Hackett wins legal bid over psychotherapy

Former Tyrone GAA star Sean Hackett
Former Tyrone GAA star Sean Hackett

A former Tyrone GAA star jailed for shooting dead his father has won legal permission to challenge an alleged failure to provide medical treatment for his delusional disorder.

Lawyers for Sean Hackett claim prison authorities have not complied with a court recommendation that he should receive appropriate psychotherapy.

Granting leave to seek a judicial review against both the Department of Justice and the South Eastern Trust, Mr Justice Maguire said: “I’m not minded to leave this man stranded.”

Hackett, 21, is currently serving a minimum seven-year sentence for the manslaughter of his father Aloysius in January 2013.

A jury found him guilty on the grounds of diminished responsibility after acquitting him of murder.

Aloysius Hackett, a former chairman of St Macartan’s GAC in Augher, was shot twice in the head on the driveway of the family home on the Aghindarrah Road near Augher, Co Tyrone.

His son Sean, who previously captained the Tyrone Minor GAA team, admitted carrying out the shooting but consistently denied murder.

At his trial it was set out how he had suffered depression in the preceding months, triggered by a split from his girlfriend.

In September last year he won his appeal against the original sentence of 10 years behind bars before he can be considered for release on licence.

Up to five psychiatrists backed the view that Hackett was in a delusional state of mind when he carried out the killing at the age of 18.

One of those experts who gave evidence at his appeal was Dr Carine Minne, who is based at the high security Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire.

She told the court Hackett had been harbouring a secret need to kill either of his parents.

According to Dr Minne he is suffering from one of the purest forms of delusional disorder she has ever encountered - with no other case like it in Northern Ireland.

Hackett remains both a suicide and homicide risk while he remains untreated, senior judges were told.

They held, on the balance of probabilities, that he had been suffering from a delusional disorder at the time of the shooting and continues to do so.

Based on the additional medical evidence, the Court of Appeal accepted his ability to form a rational judgment had been significantly impaired.

At the time Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan decided against making a hospital order, but said the case required the Department of Justice to urgently consider a transfer.

He also identified a compelling need for Hackett to receive appropriate psychotherapy at a suitable location.

However, the prisoner’s lawyers claim nothing has been done to implement those recommendations.

At the High Court on Tuesday barrister Desmond Fahy argued: “There has been a failure to adhere to adhere to the direction of the Court of Appeal.”

Counsel for the Department contended that it cannot direct the Trust to provide treatment.

The court was also told the Trust’s position is that Hackett currently doesn’t have a mental disorder.

However, Mr Justice Maguire ruled that the prisoner’s legal team have established an arguable case.

He stressed the purpose of treatment would be to help Hackett’s rehabilitation and possible future release.

“What is not in dispute is that at the present time there has been no movement towards actual treatment in the way in which the Court of Appeal perhaps expected there would be,” the judge added.

The case will now proceed to a full hearing later this year.