Murder accused attends father’s funeral

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AUGHER village was deserted and shrouded in mist on Wednesday morning, befitting the underlying deep sense of gloom as the funeral mass for Aloysius Hackett took place.

Mr Hackett, 60, was found dead in the back yard of his family home on the Aghindarragh Road late last Friday night.

His 18-year-old son Sean – a gaelic football star – appeared in Omagh Magistrates Court on Tuesday charged with his murder.

A detective told the court that Sean Hackett had initially told police that he found his father dead after coming home from a night out, but later admitted: “I did it, I shot him.”

The court also heard that Sean Hackett suffers from depression.

The teenager was remanded in custody but was granted four hours’ compassionate bail to attend his father’s funeral.

The exodus yesterday morning out of the village along country roads to St Macartan’s Church was testament to the high regard in which Mr Hackett was held.

Hundreds were determined to show their solidarity with the Hackett family.

There was a gathering at the local GAA club, of which Mr Hackett was a former chairman, before the funeral.

As midday approached, stewards from the club kept the funeral strictly organised, directing lines of cars as mourners arrived at St Macartan’s Church. As well as marshalling the mourners, they also busied themselves organising the scores of wreaths that had been sent and had covered Mr Hackett’s coffin as it was transported in the hearse.

The crowd easily filled the church, spilling outside into the adjoining cemetery, forming a semi-circle around the building.

For most of the service the crowd stood in silence in the freezing mist which swathed the hilltop, only the occasional bellow from cattle in nearby fields breaking the quiet.

Yet in being there, they showed how much they felt for the family and wanted to offer support, even before the priest called for the local community to rally round the family.

Close to the end of the service, the voice of the priest broke the silence as the intercom started working, bringing the community of mourners closer together. There was a rendition of How Great Thou Art as communion was offered both inside and to those outside, prompting queues along the side of the adjoining cemetery.

A haunting rendition of 100 Irish Blessings was sung, before the hour-long mass was brought to a close.

Before the coffin was brought out of St Macartan’s, Sean Hackett emerged from the back of the church with a woman and several men, including one of his court-ordered chaperones, Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte.

A line of stewards in fluorescent jackets stood between the bulk of mourners and the small group as there were tearful embraces. There was fresh anguish on the faces of those standing outside the church as Sean Hackett got into a car parked across the narrow road with Mr Harte and another man, before being driven away.

The group who had accompanied him watched the car pull away before drawing together to hold each other, the agony clear on their faces, before returning into the church.