A former Tyrone GAA star’s challenge to the jail term imposed for shooting dead his father has been put back due to ongoing efforts to finalise expert medical opinion.
Sean Hackett’s appeal against the minimum 10-year prison sentence imposed for the killing was set to take place next month.
But with his defence team having now secured two consultant psychiatrists based at Broadmoor in England, the hearing will now be delayed until June at the earliest.
The 20-year-old was convicted last year of the manslaughter of Aloysius Hackett on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
A jury found him guilty after acquitting him of murdering his father at the family home near Augher, Co Tyrone in January 2013.
He was ordered to serve at least 10 years of a life sentence before being considered for parole.
If there’s anxiety or a need for reassurance he’s prepared to accept a nurse will be present
See also - Sean Hackett sentenced for father’s manslaughter
However, Hackett’s lawyers are to challenge the sentence on the grounds that it does not adequately reflect his mental state at the time of the killing.
A judge who examined the case granted them leave to mount an appeal against a prison term they claim is unduly excessive.
The victim, a former chairman of St Macartan’s GAC in Augher, was shot twice in the head on the driveway of his Aghindarrah Road home.
Sean Hackett, who previously captained the Tyrone Minor GAA team, admitted carrying out the shooting but consistently denied murder.
At his trial it was set out that he had suffered depression in the months before he killed his father, triggered by a split from his girlfriend.
See also - Tyrone footballer Sean Hackett acquitted of father’s murder, convicted of manslaughter
In the Court of Appeal today defence QC, James Gallagher, confirmed psychiatric reports were being finalised.
Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan was told told of Hackett’s concerns at the prospect of being interviewed by another medical expert who gave evidence at his trial on behalf of the prosecution.
“He was visibly unsettled by the suggestion,” Mr Gallagher said.
A suggestion that a psychiatric nurse could be present during the interview was not opposed by prosecution counsel.
Ciaran Murphy QC stressed that the consultant was an independent expert.
But he added: “If there’s anxiety or a need for reassurance he’s prepared to accept a nurse will be present.”
Pressed by the judge on the likelihood of being properly prepared for the April hearing, both sides agreed it would be better to put the case back.
Sir Declan indicated a new hearing could be arranged for June.
“As long as there are no other urgent case needs to be dealt with, it will get a date (then),” he said.
“If there are pressing cases it will be September.”