Cavan murder-suicide: Father’s note won’t be made public

Alan Hawe

A suspected murder-suicide note left by Alan Hawe “could contain nothing or could contain everything”, garda sources have said.

But officers yesterday stressed the contents of the letter will “not be released” to the public, given the likely extremely sensitive nature of it.

It comes as the final two of the five autopsies were completed yesterday and as a Garda search team began its examination of the family home in Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan.

Gardaí again repeated there was “nothing” as of yet to show prior mental health issues involving Mr Hawe, a vice principal.

Officers are speaking to family, friends, teaching colleagues and neighbours to see if they knew of any issues — marital, personal or work-related — that could provide clues as to what drove him to murder his entire family, then take his own life.

An envelope found by the Garda Technical Bureau at the Hawe household yesterday was immediately preserved as evidence and sent to bureau HQ in Dublin for forensic examination.

Alan Hawe with his sons Ryan, 6, Liam, 13, and Niall, 11, and his wife Clodagh, inset.
Alan Hawe with his sons Ryan, 6, Liam, 13, and Niall, 11, and his wife Clodagh, inset.

Local gardaí could not access the contents of the envelope beforehand.

Detectives hoped it might be some sort of confession note explaining why Mr Hawe murdered his wife Clodagh, also a teacher, and their three children Liam, aged 13, Niall, 11 and Ryan, six, early last Monday.

“It [the note] has to undergo tests: DNA and fingerprint and see if there is any blood on it and whose,” said a garda source yesterday.

Gardaí said this should also give an idea of the sequence of events and when it was written. Handwriting analysis will also be conducted on the note.

Sources emphasised while the letter could be crucial to unlocking the mass murder and suicide, it also may leave them none the wiser.

“It could contain nothing or it could contain everything,” said one source.

It is understood local gardaí are in constant contact with the Technical Bureau.

Sources said the investigating officers would be made aware of the contents of the letter by the bureau as soon as they opened it.

But several gardaí said the contents will not be made public.

“It will not be released, not by the gardaí anyway,” said one source.

“The contents of it are going to be extremely sensitive.”

Once the garda file is sent to the coroner and the inquests are held, it will be up to the coroner to decide whether or not it is necessary or appropriate to release any details from it.

The postmortems, conducted by Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis, were completed yesterday.

It is thought they show that Clodagh Hawe and her three children suffered fatal blade wounds.

The examinations will also show if any other implements were used to deliver blows or to suffocate or strangle.

Mary’s Church, Castlerahan, where the funerals will take place on Saturday
Mary’s Church, Castlerahan, where the funerals will take place on Saturday

Ms Hawe was found dead downstairs, while the children were found in two upstairs bedrooms, killed in their sleep. Mr Hawe was found dead, by hanging, downstairs.

He had left a note pinned to the back of the house warning people not to come in and to call the gardaí. He also left the envelope, with a separate note, inside the house.

Garda sources said that, as it stood, there was nothing to show mental health problems involving Mr Hawe.

“At the moment there is nothing to suggest mental health issues,” said a source. “It may come at some stage from someone, but not at the moment.”

Gardaí are also examining mobile phone records and any online activity that might help. They will further examine bank records and financial statements.

“The note may assist but, at the moment, it’s a mystery,” said one source.

After the Technical Bureau left, the Cavan/Monaghan Divisional Search Team entered the house yesterday to look for anything else that could help the investigation.

The search team will look for any other weapons that might have been used in the attacks and anything of relevance to the investigation.

All five funerals are to take place together this Saturday in Castlerahan.

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