Killer hawe moved money after cruel murders of his wife and three children
The family of murder victim Clodagh Hawe has revealed that her killer husband Alan transferred cash from the couple's joint bank account into his personal account before taking his own life - after butchering his wife and three children.
On August 29 last year, the school vice-principal killed his wife Clodagh and then their three children - Liam, Niall and Ryan - in their family home in the small townland of Castlerahan, in Co Cavan, and then went back inside and killed himself.
Now, one year later, Clodagh's heartbroken family has decided to break its silence about the shocking events of that dark night just 12 months ago.
Speaking to the Herald, Clodagh's family has revealed:
- They believe Hawe pre-planned the attack in detail.
- Eldest boy Liam put up a fight for his life.
- Clodagh was found in her pyjamas on the sofa. She had been stabbed twice and attacked with a hatchet.
- The killer moved money from the couple's joint account into his personal account.
- Clodagh had confided in her mother that her husband was about to experience a "fall from grace".
After killing Clodagh (39) with a knife and a hatchet, and then taking the lives of their sons Liam (14), Niall (11) and Ryan (6), Alan Hawe left letters and details of all their bank accounts and financial affairs out to be found by whoever would come into the house.
He also used a computer to transfer money from the couple's joint account to his own, and went to the bedroom and laid out all of Clodagh's jewellery neatly on the bed.
The computer's history shows that prior to Hawe's bank transfer, Clodagh had been researching a family holiday.
At some point Hawe wrote a note and stuck it to the back door. "Don't come in. Call the gardai," it read, in his neat handwriting.
The 40-year-old then hanged himself once he was satisfied that all his affairs were in order.
Clodagh's family believes that his actions were coldly planned, premeditated, and not the actions of someone who just suddenly lost the plot for whatever reason.
They also say that he was about to suffer a fall from grace that his family were not aware of, and that, as a man they say was excessively controlling, he would not have been able to cope with the fallout.
The walls were closing in. The truth of Hawe's life was about to be revealed. Alan Hawe was seeing a counsellor and was under pressure at work when he murdered his wife, their three sons, and then took his own life.
On the Sunday, August 28, the night before their bodies were found, the Hawe family had visited Clodagh's mother Mary Coll in the town of Virginia, Co Cavan.
Arrangements were made that Clodagh would call the next morning with Niall and Ryan and drop them off.
"I had planned to go picking blackberries with them on the Monday," said Mary. All seemed normal. There was no panic, nothing out of the ordinary, and no cause for concern.
However, on the Monday morning Clodagh and the boys never arrived.
"I rang and texted both Clodagh and Alan, but there was nothing back. It was so out of character I knew there was something wrong," said Mary, seated at her kitchen table with her daughter Jacqueline.
"Coming up on 10am I decided to go over to the house about a 10-minute drive away. I had a key for the back door.
"I was afraid I would meet them on the road after having a car crash. All sorts of things went through my mind. I thought maybe there had been a carbon monoxide accident at the house.
"Then when I arrived and saw the curtains drawn and the cars in the driveway I knew there was something wrong.
"I ran from the car to the back door and I was just about to put the key in the lock when I saw the note," she said.
"I knew something terrible had happened and I went to a neighbour's house, a neighbour I knew, and I said to her that I thought something terrible had happened.
"I brought her to the house and she saw the note, and we rang the gardai.
"We sat out the front and around 20 minutes later two gardai arrived, a man and a woman."
Mary went to the neighbour's house while the officers entered her daughter's home.
"Within minutes they were back. They told us there were five bodies in the house, no survivors," said Mary through her tears.
Only later did it emerge how the family had died, and the level of violence used to kill them.
"Clodagh was on the couch in her pyjamas. He had stabbed her twice and used a hatchet. He must have had it in the house," said Mary.
"The three boys were in bed. Liam and Niall were in one room together, and Ryan was in a room on his own."
Jacqueline added: "Liam put up a struggle. We know that. Niall must have seen Liam being killed, and we don't know if they heard Clodagh being killed. Ryan was on his own though. He was a sound sleeper. We don't know what he saw or heard."
Having killed Clodagh, Liam, Niall and Ryan, Hawe then set about dealing with the family's affairs, knowing his next action would be to end his own life.
"There was a three-page letter in an envelope, in which he outlined why he had done what he had done," said Mary.
"We can't go into the full details at the moment and expect that to come out at the inquest in October.
"And there was another letter with bloodstains on it that he must have written afterwards.
"He was about to experience a fall from grace, and lose the air of respectability he felt he had in the community. He said in the letter that Clodagh didn't know anything about this, and they were happy together.
"He also wrote: 'How could I pretend to be so normal for so long?'.
"He laid out all the folders of all their financial affairs, and neatly arranged all of Clodagh's jewellery on the bed, and one of the last acts before he died was to use the computer to transfer money from their joint account to his own account.
"Then he stuck the note on the back door and went back into the house and killed himself."
A year later, the Colls are still trying to understand why Alan Hawe, a man they knew Clodagh and the kids loved, did what he did.
"Alan Hawe never raised a hand to Clodagh or the children, ever. So for this to happen in what seems to be a very planned manner is just impossible to understand," said Mary.
"If Clodagh felt she or the boys were in any danger they would've walked out. They wouldn't be there. She felt safe.
"Alan had been going to counselling, and there were pressures at work. He started the counselling for one thing, but as the work pressure came to light the counselling shifted to encompass that.
"Clodagh had confided something to me in the February, but it wasn't anything too serious, and certainly not serious enough for him to carry out his actions."
Jacqueline said: "We believe he was planning this. He must have known leaving here on the Sunday night what he was about to do. The financial papers, the notes, the hatchet in the house. It all points to him planning it all.
"The way he could sit down at a computer and transfer money from one account to another, and remember passcodes and passwords, after killing his wife and three sons?
"It's our view that he planned it all. What he wrote in the notes point to it," she added.
The family was buried together in the grounds of Castlerahan church, but within weeks the Colls decided they did not want Hawe's body in the grave with Clodagh and the boys.
Their wish was finally granted when Hawe's coffin was exhumed from the plot last May.
It is understood the Hawe family had his remains cremated afterwards.
Mary has never been back to the house in Castlerahan since, but Jacqueline was there just days after the murders.
"We had to get clothes and things for the boys, and Niall's glasses, and the blood was still on the walls," she said.
Questions are now arising as to what will happen to the house, the cars, the belongings. For the families they are tangible links to their loved ones. From a cold legal perspective they are assets.
The Coll family is hoping that when 'the estate' is being looked after and the will is read that their assets could be all sold off and the money given to charity.
As Hawe was the last to die, the laws of succession currently mean that his family could claim all or part of the entire estate.
"We don't see how that could be right considering it was Alan's actions that resulted in the deaths of the entire family, and we would call on the Government to change the laws of succession in cases of murder-suicide," said Jacqueline.
"We don't want anything from their estate. But we feel the best use of it in the circumstances is that the entire proceeds could go to a charity like the Cavan Lighthouse, which is a family aid refuge set up in memory of Clodagh and the boys," she added.
The Colls say they have been supported by so many people in the last year that it is impossible to thank them all.
"The school where Clodagh worked in Oristown has been brilliant, and they have dedicated a bench in her memory," said Jacqueline.
"Fr John O'Brien in Oristown and Fr Dermot Prior in Virginia have also been very good to us."