Sunday 22 October 2017

'Murder accused father was a bully and I hated him,' son (14) tells court

Brigid Maguire
Brigid Maguire

Andrew Phelan

A teenage boy whose mother was strangled to death by his father broke down in court as he described their home life before the killing, saying: "I hated him for what he was doing to her."

The boy (14) said his father Danny Keena had been a "bully", would "pick on" his mother Brigid Maguire and on an earlier occasion spilled "a drum of milk over her head for no reason".

At one point, his cross-examination had to be halted when he became upset and members of his family sobbed in court as he said: "I can't do this."

He was giving evidence by video link to the Central Criminal Court in the trial of his father.

In closing speeches, the defence said it was a "clear case of provocation" after Ms Maguire told the accused he was "no good as a father".

The prosecution argued it was "one of the clearest cases of murder" a jury might be given.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy is due to conclude his charge to the jury today.

Mr Keena (55), a farmer from Empor, Ballynacargy, Co Westmeath, denies the murder of his estranged partner Ms Maguire (43) at Main Street, Ballynacargy, on November 14, 2015.

Their daughter Jade found her strangled on the floor that night. The prosecution has not accepted Mr Keena's manslaughter plea.

Remy Farrell SC, prosecuting, asked the boy to describe family life before they left his father.

Threaten

"It was really bad because he would never leave my mother alone and he'd always pick on her," he said.

"He would threaten her and say 'Everything is your fault' and all this. He would say 'I'd kill you' and the whole lot."

"He came in with the milk and spilled it all over her hair and she hadn't done anything to him," he said of another incident. "I told her that I hated him for what he does be doing to her."

In another earlier incident, he said the accused had a hammer and was threatening his mother.

His father told the children to go away, then went and got a poker, he said.

"If we went away, he would have done something really bad to my mother," he told the court.

Colm Smyth SC, defending, asked him if his father had brought him to football matches and if he enjoyed it and got on well with him.

"Yeah, up until he started getting more aggressive with my mother," he replied.

"This is one of the clearest cases of murder you might hope for," Mr Farrell said in his closing speech.

He said the accused had been "thin-skinned, jealous and bitter" when he killed Ms Maguire.

"To say of Danny Keena in the past he was an abuser and because of that he is not entitled to the defence of provocation is to say the least utter nonsense," Mr Smyth said. "If there was ever a case where provocation should apply, I say to you it's this case."

Irish Independent

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