THE family of murdered Limerick teenager Jeffrey Hannan, who was beaten to death with a hatchet 15 years ago, have all but abandoned hope that his killer will ever be brought to justice.
Alan Hannan, Jeffrey’s father, said Gardai have “utterly failed” to get justice for his son, as several separate investigations have run cold.
Enquires by an Assistant Garda Commissioner have failed to yield any further evidence; a criminal investigation by the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) into serious allegations that a detective garda withheld a witness statement from the investigation team in order to protect an informant, has stalled; and a separate review of the murder investigation by Limerick gardai has also failed to bring the case forward.
The internal garda probe into the claims against the detective ended when the officer retired from the force.
Gardai believe that innocent Jeffrey, (19), was beaten to death with a hatchet as he attended a bonfire near his home at Galtee Drive, O’Malley Park, in the early hours on November 22, 2007.
The unprovoked killing was witnessed by several other people, gardai believe.
“I feel that I’m let down by the Gardaí, the State, and by GSOC, the whole lot of them. They know who did it, they know who murdered Jeffrey, so why don’t they go after them, it’s ridiculous,” said Alan Hannan.
“I’m absolutely devastated that no one has been charged with killing Jeffrey. Southill is a small place and everyone knows everyone’s business there, I was told who murdered Jeffrey on the morning he died, the Gardaí also know who murdered Jeffrey, they have told me that, and witnesses have given statements, but no one has been brought to court, why is that?, it’s not right,” said Mr Hannan.
It’s been a tragic long road for the Hannan family with many twists and turns.
Alan Hannan has been contacted by a number of individuals over the years, who had been afraid to go to the gardai and who claimed to have significant information about his son’s murder, however this has also failed to bring the case on.
Alan Hannan claims he had a meeting with a senior garda in February 2019, but that his concerns were dismissed by the officer. Later, the following March he made a formal Garda statement outlining his concerns and other allegations in relation to his son’s murder.
Mr Hannan said he has yet to receive an adequate response from gardai about this, and, “why did it take two years” for Gardaí to search a house for a murder weapon, and, why it was six weeks before Gardaí made their first arrests in the case.
On March 7, 2019, Mr Hannan made a formal complaint to GSOC, which later informed him that it had determined the complaint was “admissible under Section 87 of the (Garda Siochana) Act” and that GSOC “has decided that the complaint should be investigated in accordance with Section 98 of the Act, in other words a criminal investigation”.
Mr Hannan wrote to the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris in 2019 seeking a meeting. In March 2021, after Limerick Sinn Fein TD, Maurice Quinlivan, who sits on the local Joint Policing Committee, made representations on Mr Hannan’s behalf, Garda Headquarters arranged for Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn, Head of the Southern Region, An Garda Siochana, to make contact.
Alan Hannan and Ass Comm Finn have met a number of times, however Finn’s enquires have also run cold.
GSOC have informed Mr Hannan their enquires have also stalled unless new evidence emerges.
When asked for comment, a GSOC spokeswoman replied: “As this investigation remains open, GSOC is not in a position to provide any update at this time.”
Despite advances in DNA technology, recent forensic tests carried out on clothing seized by gardai years earlier, which they suspect was worn by individuals on the night of the murder, have also failed to bring the case forward.
Mr Hannan added: “If allegations were made against me that I withheld a statement from a murder investigation, I would be arrested, wouldn’t I? Has this retired garda been arrested, are gardaí going to question them, like they would any other civilian? I can’t get any answers from the Gardaí about this.”
With little sing of a breakthrough in the case, Alan Hannan said he will investigate “if the European Court of Justice or Court of Human Rights can help me”.
When these and other questions were put to the Garda Press Office, a spokesman replied: “An Garda Síochána does not generally provide specific details of the conduct of any particular criminal investigation.”
“An Garda Síochána does not comment on either investigations carried out by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission or internal disciplinary matters,” they added.
“An Garda Síochána can confirm an internal review into this matter has been completed by Limerick Garda Divisions.”
“The investigation into the murder of Mr Jeffrey Hannan remains an active investigation. Over the years, a number of arrests have been made as part of the investigation.”
“An Garda Síochána continues to appeal to any members of the public with any information relating to this murder to please come forward,” added the Garda spokesman.
Mr Hannan also contacted the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, and her spokesman replied that the minister could not get involved.
“Disciplinary matters within An Garda Siochana are a matter for the Garda Commissioner and not for the Minister, and in thee circumstances it would be inappropriate for the Minister to comment,” said her spokesman.