Saturday 21 October 2017

'I think mammy is dead' - Teen who found her mum strangled to death in their home rejects her father's apology for the killing

Brigid Maguire, who was found dead in her Westmeath home
Brigid Maguire, who was found dead in her Westmeath home

Andrew Phelan

A young woman who found her mother strangled on the floor of their home has said her father’s apology in court for the killing is “a bit too late.”

Jade Maguire was responding as a defence barrister told her at the Central Criminal Court that murder accused Danny Keena (54) was “very sorry for the killing of your mother.”

Mr Keena admits the manslaughter of his partner Brigid Maguire (41) but denies her murder.

Their daughter Jade also told a jury at his trial of the moment she arrived at her Co Westmeath home to find her mother dead, saying she “tried to call her but she was gone.”

The court heard Mr Keena went “on the run” for 24 hours after the killing, “running wild” through a forest and unsuccessfully trying to hang and drown himself before arriving at a neighbour’s house to turn himself in.

Mr Keena of Empor, Ballynacargy, Co Westmeath is charged with the murder of 41-year-old Brigid Maguire at Main Street, Ballynacargy on November 14, 2015.

In evidence, Jade Maguire said she, her mother and her brother had left the family home because the accused was “always very violent towards my mother, very abusive, literally the whole time.”

She gave evidence of an earlier incident she alleged happened while her father was still living with the family, shortly before they moved out.

“There was a hammer and a poker and he tried to choke my mother as well,” she said.

She said she had been in her room and she could hear her father shouting at her mother. She walked into the room they were in and her father had his hands behind his back.

Ms Maguire said her father asked her to make him tea but she would not because she “knew he was hiding something behind his back.”

She said the accused took a hammer out and started waving it into her mother’s face, shouting and screaming, “saying he was going to kill her.”

Her mother was very afraid and had marks on her neck, Ms Maguire continued. He put down the hammer and was still shouting and her brother was trying to calm him down, she said.

The accused left the room and came back with a poker, which he “waved, trying to get at Mammy,” Ms Maguire said.

“Later we tried to leave and he stopped us with a baseball bat,” she added.

They later moved out of the family home to a rented house on the main street of Ballynacargy.

On the night of November 14, after a shopping trip to Mullingar, Ms Maguire said she went to her cousin Natalie’s house, while her mother went home.

When Jade Maguire returned, the door was open and she walked in and texted her mother.

“I was shouting Mammy, but I didn’t get no response,” she said. “I kept shouting and I was a bit up the stairs when I seen her lying on the floor. I went over to her and I tried to call her and that but she was gone. She was dead.”

Defence barrister Colm Smyth SC put it to her in cross examination that her evidence was the first time a baseball bat had been mentioned. She replied that she had been in shock and grief when she gave her statement.

Mr Smyth said there was no doubt Ms Maguire had loved her mother very dearly. He said the accused was “very sorry for the killing of your mother.”

“Well that is a bit too late,” she replied.

Her cousin Natalie Keena said the two had watched the X Factor, then Jade went home.

“When she came back, the screaming I will never forget,” she said. “She was screaming Natalie, roaring for me to help. She said I think Mammy is dead.”

When she followed her cousin to the house, Jade Maguire said “she is upstairs,” so Ms Keena went up.

“I nearly fell back down the stairs with the shock,” Ms Keena said.

Valerie Burke, a nurse and a cousin of Brigid Maguire said her brother Jim phoned her to say Brigid had “collapsed and it didn’t look good, and Danny may have choked her.”

Paramedics led by Paddy Mulligan were trying to resuscitate Brigid Maguire and Ms Burke followed instructions, to no avail as she was “clearly dead.”

"I think it was after the second round of cardio resuscitation that Paddy Mulligan said he was going to call it,” she said.

The accused’s older brother Tom Keena said his sister Mary called to say “something bad had happened.”

He spent most of the night searching for the accused, who was missing. He searched the fields and river. While he was in his sister Bernie’s house the next day, Mary Burke arrived and said that “Danny was in her house” in Churchtown and he wanted to hand himself in.

He went there and Danny Keena did not say anything to him but was “shivering and shaking with the cold.”

“He was drinking I don’t know how many mugs of tea, he was in a bad state,” he said. “He was a terrible looking wreck, there was a towel on him or something, there was all dirt and filth, he was rough looking.”

Tom Keena told Mr Smith there was a mark on his brother’s neck and he was aware he had tried to hang himself and drown himself by jumping in the river.

He had been on the run for 24 hours, he agreed.

Tom Keena said his brother was a “savage to work” and a “brilliant” father.

Another brother, Brendan Keena said in Ms Burke’s house, the accused had “marks on his arms, blood, scrapes and scratches.”

When asked about trying to take his own life, the accused had said “I did think about it,” then said “he didn’t do it because of the kids,” Brendan Keena continued.

In cross-examination, he agreed that the accused had said  “she told me I was a bad father to Daniel” and that he had tried to “revive her but panicked, and admitted that he had killed her.”

David Burke said he was at home watching Fair City on November 15 when he went out to close the gate and saw the accused in his yard, soaking wet.

Danny Keena was talking to Mr Burke’s wife Mary.

“I said to him, Danny do you realise what you’ve done,” he said. “He said ‘I know’. I says, ‘you can’t hide or run from it.’”

The accused asked to get something to eat so they brought him inside.

“I asked him did he kill the woman, and he says ‘I did’”, Mr Burke said. “He says Brigie got aggressive towards him, she changed in the last two years.”

In cross-examination, Mr Burke agreed the accused had said “I didn’t realise what I was after doing” and “I tried to bring her back but I panicked and ran.”

The trial continues before a jury and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy.

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