Family of slain Rangers’ star hit out at damages award

February 1, 2016

by Christine Keighery

THE family of murdered Crossmaglen Rangers’ footballer, James Hughes say they are “disgusted” that his killer’s relatives have received €50,000 in damages over the murder accused’s suicide in a courthouse cell.

Shane Rogers hung himself in a holding cell at Cloverhill Courthouse in Dublin on December 20, 2011, after being held there for the murder of the Crossmaglen Rangers captain nine days earlier.

Rogers blasted Mr Hughes to death after firing a double-barrelled shotgun into the taxi he was travelling in with Rogers’ ex-girlfriend, 21 year old Patricia Byrne.  He targeted the pair outside her home in a Dundalk housing estate in the early hours of December 11th 2011, fatally wounding the father of three young children. The killing sent shockwaves through the local community of Crossmaglen where Mr Hughes was a popular and well-known figure.

Rogers fled the scene of the murder and drove to Carrickmacross Garda Station where he handed himself to police.

The killer’s family brought an action seeking damages for mental shock and distress and it emerged last week that a settlement of €50,000 had been approved.

The murdered GAA star’s family admitted they were “absolutely floored” to learn of the damages award and called for a change in the law.

Speaking to The Examiner, Rita Duffy, a sister of the three-times All-Ireland club winner, slammed what she described as “an unfair system” which has left “an innocent party without justice despite our family’s four year fight for answers.”

Rita questioned how Rogers, who she claims was well known to police and had previous convictions for assault and disorderly conduct, could have been allowed to own three legally-held weapons.

She said James’ family were determined not to give up the fight for answers for the sake of his three sons, so the family can reach “closure and begin to grieve properly for our brother.”

Describing how the news of the damages award has impacted on the Hughes family, Rita said,

“James has a nineteen year old son who simply cannot get his head around the fact that Rogers’ family have profited from this whole situation when this man murdered his father in cold blood.”

“We are all gutted, devastated and heartbroken all over again,” she added.

“While we can understand his family have suffered a loss too and their need for answers, but it should have stopped there.  They needed their questions answered but they should not have received money for that.  It is a huge insult and a slap in the face for our family.

“At the end of the day, their son handed himself in on the night he murdered James and admitted what he had done.  He had choices that night.  He chose to lay in wait for James’ taxi, he chose to fire those shots.  He could have walked away but he chose to walk up and shoot my brother at point blank range.  James had no choices that night.

“Legal changes have to made so that this doesn’t happen again.  Yes the Rogers family deserved an apology but that was it.

“There is not a day goes by that we don’t think of James and we are determined to continue the fight to prove that the system failed our brother. We were continuously told that Rogers did not have any previous convictions but we know he had.

Vowing to continue to fight for answers, Rita said,

“We’re not going anywhere so it doesn’t matter how long it takes. Someone has to hold their hands up and admit that my brother’s murder should never have happened.

“It’s never going to change what happened or the life sentence we have been given but I’d like to think it might save somebody else from having to go through this heartbreak. Rogers never faced justice in a court of law so we did not get closure on this.

“We’re not  going to stop fighting to prove that the system failed our brother so we as a family and, most importantly, his children, can reach some form of closure and justice.  All we want is for someone to hold their hands up and apologise for the failings within the system regarding James murder.  If it was one of us instead, James would go to the ends of the earth for answers and we will do the very same for him.”