The killer father who murdered his wife and three sons then hanged himself was today exposed as a cross dresser who watched pornography on a school laptop.
Alan Hawe, 40, killed his wife Clodagh, 39, and sons Liam, 13, Niall, 11, and Ryan, six, in August 2016 in Virginia in County Cavan, Ireland, before taking his own life.
Clodagh’s family have now spoken out to describe Hawe as ‘evil’ and rejected claims he was suffering from depression when he killed his wife and children.
(From left) Alan Hawe with his wife Clodagh and their children Liam, 13, Niall, 11 and Ryan, six
Her mother Mary Coll and sister Jacqueline Connolly told of the premeditated way Hawe killed his family, slashing his sons’ throats so they couldn’t cry out to alert each other and killing his wife and eldest sons first so they couldn’t fight.
Ms Connolly told RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live last night: ‘He was looking at pornography on the school laptop and he never brought the school laptop home.
‘We’ve had sight of the counselling notes and he had said he was masturbating somewhere that he shouldn’t have been, possibly at the school.’
Ms Coll said: ‘We do know now, that we didn’t at the time, that he was dressing in Clodagh’s underwear.
‘I mean Clodagh would never, ever in her wildest dreams have thought of that, none of us would. We only found that out after the inquest.
Clodagh Hawe’s sister Jacqueline Connolly (left) and mother Mary Coll (right) sit with RTÉ presenter Claire Byrne (centre) for an exclusive interview last night
She added: ‘If he was masturbating in the school well at the very least he was guilty of professional misconduct. That was at the very least.’
They also revealed Hawe sat and wrote a five-page letter – and after hacking his wife to death with an axe and taking up a new weapon and launching another brutal attack on his sleeping sons upstairs, he transferred money.
‘That is evil. That is not depression. That is force brutality and it is control,’ Ms Coll said.
Speaking about the letter, she added: ‘He kind of said that it was easier for them to die than to have to live with the truth of what he was doing. Clodagh didn’t know and it would be easier for her to die than to know the truth about him.’
Ms Coll also revealed how hours before the murder, Hawe had sat at her kitchen table with her daughter Clodagh, drinking tea, eating biscuits and checking the Lotto numbers while their young sons watched TV.
Describing the night in question, Ms Coll said: ‘It was a normal conversation. He [Hawe] was due back at work the next day and he didn’t want to go back.
The hearse carrying the coffin of murdered Clodagh Hawe arrives at St Mary’s Church in Castlerahan, Co Caven, in 2016 following the tragedy
‘Myself and Clodagh and Alan sat in the kitchen and we chatted normally and we [had] coffee and tea and biscuits or whatever.
‘When they left we hugged, we said ‘I love you’, we always did that, and I said to Alan, I said ‘Good luck tomorrow’ and he said ‘Thanks Mary, thanks for the goodies’ and I never saw them again.’
She said the next morning when she didn’t hear from her daughter she knew something was wrong.
Ms Coll said: ‘I drove up to the house and I saw the curtains all drawn and the two cars and I thought there is something terrible wrong.
‘I had a key to their back door and I ran round the back and I had the key in my hand and… I saw the note on the door. And it read ‘Don’t come in, call the gardaí’. And I knew it was his writing.
Mrs Hawe, 39, and sons Liam, 13, Niall, 11, and Ryan (all pictured together), six, were killed by Hawe, 40, in August 2016 in Virginia, Co. Cavan. Hawe then took his own life
‘And I went out on the road and I let the phone fall and I tried to dial 999 about ten times but I couldn’t.
‘Eventually I got through and I went to Clodagh’s neighbour and I said to her ‘Edie’, I said, ‘I think Alan has done something terrible’.
She said Clodagh had been enjoying a cup of tea on the couch and looking up holidays online when Hawe struck her with an axe.
Ms Coll said: ‘He came in behind her and he hit her in the head with the axe and he stabbed her in the back and she put up her hand to defend herself and he basically nearly sawed her hand off.
‘He killed her like he hated her. He didn’t need to use two weapons. He killed her with such brutality. It was evil.’
The Hawe family funeral at St Mary’s Church Castlerahan in Co Cavan in 2016
Ms Coll said he then took up a new knife and went upstairs where he put his knee on his eldest son Liam’s chest and cut through his windpipe to render him silent.
She said: ‘So Niall was sharing a room with Liam so Niall probably wouldn’t have woken up because Liam couldn’t scream out but he had defensive wounds on his hands. He did the same to Niall and then he went to Ryan’s room.
Clodagh Hawe’s mother Mary Coll and sister Jacqueline at Cavan town courthouse during a break at an inquest in December 2017
‘Ryan was the smallest of the three of them. He was very slight and thin for his age but during the inquest we were told that he used a sawing action on Ryan and that he just threw the duvet cover over all of them and left the knife that he used on Ryan’s pillow.
‘That is evil. That is not depression. That is force brutality and it is control.’
Clodagh, Hawe and the boys were initially buried together.
Clodagh’s sister Jacqueline Connolly said it was only the day after the funeral when they visited the graves that they realised. ‘We were initially told it would be no problem to have him moved but then we realised that the exhumation could not happen [unless] Alan Hawe’s next of kin applied for him to be moved. So we asked the Hawe family.’ She said that ‘eventually’ his family agreed.
Ms Coll and Jacqueline have called for a fresh, full inquiry into the four murders.
They want Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to set up a investigation unit for familicide and family annihilation.
An inquest heard Hawe had severe mental illness. But Ms Coll said when she heard that she ‘wanted to shout from the rooftops, that’s not the truth, that’s not what happened’.
She said: ‘Alan Hawe was attending his GP for five years and she didn’t diagnose him with depression.
‘We just feel that people need to be aware of the truth and that is the truth.’
‘We need the truth’: Clodagh Hawe’s family lay bare the horror of how she and her three children were murdered and the awful aftermath in a spine-chilling interview
On August 29, 2016, Alan Hawe murdered his wife Clodagh and their children Liam, Niall and Ryan. In last night’s exclusive interview with Clodagh’s mother Mary Coll and sister Jacqueline Connolly, RTÉ presenter Claire Byrne asked about the night before the killing…
Clodagh Hawe (right) with her sister Jacqueline Connolly (centre) and mother Mary Coll (left)
CLAIRE: I know this is really difficult but on the 28th August, they were in your house Mary, isn’t that right?
MARY: That’s right yes.
CLAIRE: And you were having a cup of tea together and this was all normal. Do you want to talk to me about that evening?
MARY: That evening, Liam had a basketball match in Virginia that evening so they were all going to it. They came to my house after the match for a cup of tea, probably around half past six, seven o’clock, I’m not sure of the time, but the children sat and they watched telly and they had whatever, poor little Ryan had a bag of crisps, his favourite salt and vinegar, and myself and Clodagh and Alan sat in the kitchen and we chatted normally and we had coffee and tea and biscuits or whatever and he googled stuff on the phone for me, the lotto numbers, the Ploughing Championship, when it was on, we talked about everything and anything.
CLAIRE: And it was a normal conversation?
MARY: It was a normal conversation. He was due back at work the next day and he didn’t want to go back. So at twenty to nine, Clodagh looked at the clock and she said, ‘Alan we better go home now because Ryan has to have a bath’. Ryan and Niall didn’t have school so they were coming to me and we were going to pick blackberries and we were going, Niall was going to make blackberry and apple crumble. When they left we hugged, we said, ‘I love you’, we always did that, and I said to Alan, I said, ‘Good luck tomorrow’ and he said ‘Thanks Mary, thanks for the goodies’ and I never saw them again.
CLAIRE: Okay, take your time, take your time.
MARY: That was the last time I ever saw them.
MARY: I sat the next morning and I waited for Clodagh to drop the boys off and I looked out the window and I sat down and I got up and I kept thinking, ‘What is wrong?’. Because if Clodagh, if she was going to be five minutes late, she’d let you know. I rang her phone, there was no reply. I rang the house phone. I rang his phone. I text Clodagh. I text him, ‘Where is Clo? She hasn’t arrived yet’ and eventually, I don’t know how long had passed, I got into the car but at that stage my stomach was sick, I knew. I drove over that road, it was the longest journey I ever drove, and it was only five miles, and I remember seeing the magpies on the road. And I said, ‘Please God, don’t let anybody else be dead.’ And I drove up to the house and I saw the curtains all drawn and the two cars and I thought there is something terribly wrong. And then I thought maybe it’s carbon monoxide poisoning, the five of them couldn’t have slept in. So I had a key to their back door and I ran round the back and I had the key in my hand and I was just about to put it in the lock and I looked and I saw the note on the door. And it read, ‘Don’t come in, call the gardaí.’ And I knew it was his writing. And I went out on the road and I let the phone fall and I tried to dial 999 about ten times but I couldn’t. Eventually I got through and I went to Clodagh’s neighbour and I said to her, ‘Edie… I think Alan has done something terrible’. And she said to me ‘What, Mary?’ I said, ‘I don’t know but I think he’s done something terrible.’ And the two of us went round to the back door and she said to me, ‘Mary, please don’t go in’ and I said, ‘No Edie, I’m not going to go in’ because I knew, I just knew, in the pit of my stomach, I just knew that if I went in, I would never be able to live again. And the guards came, two guards came, and they told me to go into Edie’s house and stay with Edie and I don’t know how long I was there and eventually they came in and they just stood there. The male guards said to me, ‘We found five bodies, there’s nobody alive.’
JACQUELINE: It was actually coming in on my phone before I got to mam – ‘five found dead in Cavan’ but no-one could tell me how they died. We know now that he killed Clodagh first, we know now from the inquest that he killed the people first that would be deemed well able to stand up to him. The axe that he killed Clodagh with was always kept in the shed outside so we know that at some stage before the time that he killed Clodagh he had brought it into the house. He had already moved the furniture that Clodagh would have her back to him as he walked into the sitting room. We know that Clodagh was online looking up holidays at the time and she was having a cup of tea. He came in behind her and he hit her in the head with the axe and he stabbed her in the back and she put up her hand to defend herself and he basically nearly sawed her hand off. He killed her like he hated her. He didn’t need to use two weapons, he killed her with such brutality, it was evil. He, from what it would seem, he then sat down and he wrote the letter because he had left the axe and the knife on the floor and he wrote the letter and he took up a new knife and he went upstairs and he, we know he put his knee on Liam’s chest and cut through his windpipe to render him silent so Niall was sharing a room with Liam so Niall probably wouldn’t have woken up because Liam couldn’t scream out but he had defensive wounds on his hands. He did the same to Niall and then he went to Ryan’s room. Ryan was the smallest of the three of them, he was very slight and thin for his age but during the inquest we were told that he used a sawing action on Ryan and that he just threw the duvet cover over all of them and left the knife that he used on Ryan’s pillow. That is evil. That is not depression. That is force brutality and it is control.
JACQUELINE: There was no initial support. I remember the Monday myself and Mam trying to contact people and there was nobody there. There was no initial person with us on the day to say, you know, this has happened and take time or anything like that. We were seeing things online, we were ringing our family liaison officer at one point to say, ‘Please tell me he didn’t kill her with an axe’. So it was the media that was informing us more so than anybody else initially. Two weeks before the inquest we got a copy of his letter which was 16 months after it happened so from what we can see from reading the letter he had initially during the summer, he had moved the furniture, he had moved the couch from a side wall in the sitting room to have the back of it facing that Clodagh wouldn’t find him coming behind her. It had never been moved in the 12 years that they had been living there but it had been moved when they came back from holidays. Reading the letter it would seem that he killed Clodagh first and he sat and he wrote five pages about how he felt, and how the truth was going to come out eventually and he reassured us that if it was any consolation that they were happy. And he then killed the boys and he came downstairs then and he wrote some more. And then he transferred money and he went about his business while his family were dead around him and he set out folders and wrote notes.
CLAIRE: Just when you say he transferred money, just explain what you mean by that?
JACQUELINE: At about half two that morning, he transferred about €2,500 from the joint account to his own account so at that point he was a criminal and then he was fraudulently transferring money. And then he obviously put the note on the back door and he laid Clodagh’s jewellery on the bed upstairs.
CLAIRE: And he said in that note that he wanted you, Mary, to have the jewellery. Is that right?
MARY: Yes, he gave instructions of what we were to do. The documents in the folders were very important, they were all documents relating to their bank statements, their mortgage, all the financial stuff. He said, ‘Give Mary Clodagh’s jewellery and her handbag’. He left instructions for his brother to have the car to sell, they had a new car. What else did he say, Jacqueline?
JACQUELINE: He told us not to mess up our lives, in particular me and his two brothers. Said, ‘Any little thing at all, make sure you don’t mess it up like I have’ and ‘please don’t forgive me’ was one of the lines, you know.
CLAIRE: Did he say in that letter, why he did what he did?
JACQUELINE: There were bits and pieces of information and as you know we went through an inquest and the law for the inquest is very limited so we only find out where, when, how it happened and who it happened to but we never found out the why and we were advised that that probably would never happen at the inquest. But he has said in his own words that he was caught red-handed and we do know that he was looking at pornography on the school laptop and he never brought the school laptop home. We’ve had sight of the counselling notes and he had said he was masturbating somewhere that he shouldn’t have been, possibly at the school. So we have pieces of information but we don’t know who caught him. We don’t know why he was ringing the INTO, whether it was for advice for a grievance. We don’t know where it happened, when it happened. We do know, in the June, he cancelled all his counselling sessions and this all happened the day before he was to return to school so it was avoidance of the consequences he was about to face.
CLAIRE: And he spoke in the letter didn’t he, about shame? And about not wanting Clodagh and the boys to have to live with what he had done?
MARY: Yes he kind of said that it was easier for them to die than to have to live with the truth of what he was doing. Clodagh didn’t know and it would be easier for her to die than to know the truth about him.
CLAIRE: And the frustrating, torturous thing for you is that you still don’t fully know what he was talking about. Is that right?
MARY: But he did say that the counsellor knows everything, the counsellor he was attending, he knows everything. Isn’t that what he said Jacqueline?
JACQUELINE: He said the counsellor knows the rest. We don’t know why, after a full investigation, we’re left with these questions. We’ve requested the files from the gardaí and they’ve declined that request from our legal representative. But we feel that an injustice has been done to Clodagh and the boys. Clodagh was sitting on the couch looking up holidays on her laptop and the boys were innocently asleep in their beds and they should not have died the way they died. And we feel that we need the truth, we need to know why they died, out of respect for them but to be able to have some peace of mind, we need these answers.
MARY: And those four innocent people that we miss so much and dearly should still be alive, living their lives to the full. He had the illusion that they couldn’t manage their lives without him, they couldn’t live without him but that was how he perceived himself, that’s how important he thought he was. Clodagh was a professional woman, she was assertive, she had three lovely, healthy children. It would have been hard but they would have survived and we would have helped them. Life wouldn’t have been the same again for them certainly but children grow up and they live their own lives.
CLAIRE: He said in the letter that they wouldn’t have been able or he didn’t want them to go through their lives without him if he removed himself from the picture.
JACQUELINE: He said he was leading them to a life of ruin essentially and Clodagh would have to clean up his mess. We still don’t know what that mess is. He said the truth was going to come out sometime, we don’t know what that truth is.
MARY: We do know now, that we didn’t at the time, that he was dressing in Clodagh’s underwear. I mean Clodagh would never, ever in her wildest dreams have thought of that, none of us would. We only found that out after the inquest. He said as well, ‘When I go back to school it will all blow up.’ What we don’t know, was he going to face a grievance? If he was masturbating in the school well at the very least he was guilty of professional misconduct. That was at the very least.
CLAIRE: But nothing has ever come of that and you’ve never found out what was going on in his work life.’
JACQUELINE & MARY: No.
JACQUELINE: We’ve actually never spoken to anyone from the school at all since they died. Nobody’s approached us on a normal stance, let alone to give us information.
JACQUELINE: The next day after the funeral we went to the graves and the horror of what we’d done, the stupor in our trauma, we had buried him with them. We were initially told it would be no problem to have him moved but then we realised that the exhumation could not happen unless Alan Hawe’s next of kin applied for him to be moved. So we asked the Hawe family to move him.
CLAIRE: And eventually they allowed that to happen?
JACQUELINE: Eventually, yeah, they allowed it to happen.
CLAIRE: And he was exhumed. Were you there at that day that it happened?
JACQUELINE: I was there, I was there that morning. Mam didn’t want to be there but I needed to be there to see him go. And there was a sense of relief but that sense of relief fades, it doesn’t stay with you, you know they’re still gone, it’s just that he was gone now.
CLAIRE: Do you go to the grave?
MARY: I do, I go maybe once twice a week. I just sit, I just can’t believe they’re there. I don’t get any comfort, I can’t pray, I can’t talk to them, I just, it’s easier not to believe that they’re gone. You know. It’s hell. It’s the only way you can describe it.
CLAIRE: Some of the evidence at the inquest examined his medical records, his counselling records, and some conclusions were drawn about him and his state of mind at the time. It was said at the inquest that he had depression and this had developed into psychosis or psychotic incidents and this was what led to him – this was the theory – that this was led him to do what he did. You don’t accept that, is that fair to say you don’t accept that?
MARY: That somebody can wipe out their whole family and write about it and an expert can sit in a box, look through all the literature, never meet the person and say, ‘Well he had chronic depression’. How is that?
JACQUELINE: It wasn’t coincidence.
MARY: It doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t make sense.
JACQUELINE: He said in his letter ‘if it’s any consolation, we were happy’. Clodagh was happy, the boys were happy, we were happy. It’s very rare that you would hear someone suffering from depression say that they were happy. Alan Hawe was attending his GP for five years and she didn’t diagnose him with depression.
MARY: He never missed time from work, he was never sick. He had a position of responsibility. He showed no signs of depression, he was out, GAA, football, out and about.
CLAIRE: And what do you believe?
JACQUELINE: We believe he was avoiding the consequences of something he was avoiding doing at work. He rang the INTO, we don’t know why, whether it was for agrievance or whether it was for representation. We know that he had conflict with a colleague. We know that he said in his letter that the truth was going to come out and he had thought about taking his own life but he didn’t want to be left retarded or worse, Clodagh finding out the truth and we don’t know what that truth is. We have asked in the last number of weeks for the file of the investigation from the gardaí, we’ve been refused that. Nothing in this country is going to change if we just throw a blanket over the inquest, a blanket of depression, and Clodagh, Liam, Niall and Ryan. Their file is in a filing cabinet now with reference numbers and we still don’t know why .
CLAIRE: This man was in your lives for over 20 years but you didn’t know him.
JACQUELINE & MARY: No.
MARY: But we thought we knew him. Clodagh thought she knew him.
JACQUELINE: You would never think in a million years that a man like that could commit such brutality and evil. The evil that he created that night. It wasn’t coincidence that he did it before the night he was about to return to school.
CLAIRE: So when you heard at the inquest that he had depression and it had escalated into psychosis or psychotic moments, you just don’t accept that?
MARY: No, and I really, I wanted to shout from the rooftops, that’s not the truth, that’s not what happened. We’ve been controlled since this happened by our decency, our sense of decency, but it’s not easy to sit and talk about this but we just feel that people need to be aware of the truth and that is the truth. We just need answers to the questions. You know, he was caught, who caught him? What was he doing, where was he doing it, why did he feel the need that he had to wipe out his whole family, what was so bad that he was doing?
CLAIRE: Having met you now a number of times and having said this is not something you want to do, particularly you Mary, I know you were uncomfortable about doing it.
MARY: Yes because Clodagh was such a private person. I felt initially am I being disloyal to Clodagh, talking about her personal life, her children, her husband. But then I think of the horror, I think of what her last minutes must have been like, how worried for her children she must have been, how defenceless she was. She was five-footsomething, she was eight stone, he was a big strong man, and I think she didn’t stand a chance. He felt that he was judge, jury and executioner, and he just done what he felt he had to do to save his face.