Smith brothers jailed for Tassagh double manslaughter

March 10, 2014

Four brothers convicted of the manslaughter of Thomas O’Hare and Lisa McClatchey at their remote cottage in Tassagh in 2006 were jailed for up to 11 years each last week.

Niall, Martin, Christopher and Stephen Smith killed the couple in a fire they started at the couple’s County Armagh home.

Mr O’Hare and Ms McClatchey died of the injuries they suffered in the fire and the Smith brothers were also badly burned.

Niall Smith’s sentence was reduced to 10 years because he had effectively pleaded guilty to manslaughter while his three brothers received 11 years each.

The four were convicted of manslaughter last December but cleared of murder after they admitted breaking into the house, beating Mr O’Hare and pouring petrol around the property.

Details had emerged during the trial that Mr O’Hare had been convicted of sexually abusing the youngest of the four brothers, Stephen Smith, when Smith was about eight years old and Thomas O’Hare was 17.

Stephen Smith told the court that Thomas O’Hare had sexually abused him as a child and admitted that he and his brothers had planned to burn down O’Hare’s cottage on Foley Road, Tassagh, in a bid to drive him out of the area.

The Smith brothers had also been found not guilty of arson, but guilty of attempted arson.

Passing the sentences, the judge said that while he accepted Stephen Smith had suffered as a result of the abuse he endured by Mr O’Hare, there was “absolutely no excuse” for the brothers to do what they did.

He said: “To resort to this sort of conduct will lead to unforeseen consequences, and here we have these unforeseen consequences brought home to the offenders.”

He added that each brother “had different roles to play” in the attack and that he held each man equally responsible.

Speaking about the impact of the deaths on the victims’ families, the judge added,

“The families of Mr O’Hare and Ms McClatchey value their privacy and do not wish their grief to be aired in public, but what is clear is that both families are distraught by the deaths and by the circumstances of the deaths.”