Self-confessed teenage killer Sean Hackett – who shot his 60-year-old father Aloysius ‘Wishie’ Hackett because he wanted him as his guardian angel – was yesterday handed a life sentence and was told he will serve a minimum of 10 years before he is considered eligible for release.
Mr Justice Stephens told the 19-year-old former GAA footballing star, who admitted shooting his father twice in the head in the driveway of their Aghindarrah Road family home in Augher, Tyrone, on January 4 last year, that he was deemed to present a “significant risk of serious harm to others”.
Dungannon Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard Hackett said he felt “powerful” and “excited” when he was shooting his father and that he “wasn’t going to stop until he (Aloysius) was dead”.
The judge said that Mr Hackett didn’t die immediately and that “his terror is not hard to imagine” in a fatal attack which was carried out after “considerable planning and preparation in advance” by his youngest child.
The judge branded Hackett’s belief that if he killed one of his parents they would look after him in heaven as “delusional”, adding “on the contrary, things could not be worse”.
He also spoke of Hackett’s “egocentricity and narcissism” and revealed there was a risk the young man was developing schizophrenia.
Hackett was handed a life sentence, with a minimum sentence of 10 years, on a charge of manslaughter, with a concurrent life sentence with a minimum term of four years for possessing the firearm and ammunition with intent.
Mr Justice Stephens also sentenced his 18-year-old “star-struck” friend Ronan Mulrine from Dunroe Road, Augher, to one year’s detention which was suspended for two years after he admitted supplying his father’s .22 Czech hunting rifle and ammunition, unaware they would be used in the brutal killing.
Mulrine, said to have been “in awe” of the former Tyrone Minors captain, later told police he would have given and done anything for Hackett because he believed and trusted him when he said he needed the rifle to shoot rabbits, or “for a job”.
Sentencing Mulrine, the judge said that while he accepted “to some extent you were in awe of Sean Hackett”, giving his friend the weapon and ammunition knowing he didn’t have a relevant licence was wrong.
The judge also told the student that he accepted he didn’t have any idea about Hackett’s mental state or his “intention to kill one of other of his parents”.
‘No sense of anger or grievance’ from family
While Sean Hackett showed little emotion during yesterday’s sentencing – as he had done throughout his trial last month – his distraught and doting mother Eilis and his siblings sat in the public gallery behind him. As he was led from the dock, Eilis comforted her three children, who all broke down in tears.
Yesterday’s hearing was told that the court was provided with statements on behalf of Eilis and her children about the impact Mr Hackett’s death has had on the family.
Mr Justice Stephens said “no-one could fail to be moved by their heartfelt loss” and while they were aware there was something wrong mentally with Sean, there was “no sense of anger or grievance on their part”.
At the end of the Dungannon trial last month the jury acquitted Hackett of the cold-blooded murder of his father just over two months after he attempted to throttle his mum with a length of electrical flex, after he’d broken up with his first and only girlfriend.
Instead the jury, following two and a half hours deliberation, convicted him of the lesser charge of manslaughter, by reason of “diminished responsibility”.