Friday 20 October 2017

Wife killer is kept waiting for decision on final appeal

Jason O'Brien

Jason O'Brien

CONVICTED killer Brian Kearney will have to wait until at least October before learning whether he can take a final appeal against his conviction for murdering his wife Siobhan in 2006.

The Court of Criminal Appeal reserved judgment yesterday on whether Kearney can appeal to the Supreme Court in a bid to overturn the conviction.

Kearney (53) was jailed for life by the Central Criminal Court two years ago for strangling his wife Siobhan to death at their family home. He staged the scene to make it look like a suicide.

An appeal by the former businessman and electrical contractor against the conviction was dismissed by the three-judge appeal court last year.

His legal team yesterday sought permission to bring a point of law to the Supreme Court, arguing that Kearney's appeal raised "a point of exceptional public importance".

The appeal centres on Mrs Kearney's passport, a diary and a sum of money, which were discovered in the hot press of her home after her death.

Michael O'Higgins, defending, said the admission of these as "evidence" in Kearney's trial was prejudicial as it had operated to "dramatically ... feed into" the suggestion that "a fast exit strategy" was needed.

He said it was not contested in the trial that Ms Kearney (38) wanted a separation from her husband. However, he said the juxtaposition of the diary, passport and cash meant there was a "prejudicial value", in that it implied that she wanted to leave quickly because living in the house "was so unbearable".

Diary

Mr O'Higgins also made reference to the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeal last year, which likened the finding of the diary to the finding of a suitcase at the door of the house on the very day that a person was murdered.

He said the Supreme Court needed to address the point of whether, in certain circumstances, it is open to trial judges to admit evidence where they are "mindful" of its possible prejudicial effect on the accused.

Kearney was not in court for the hour-long hearing yesterday.

Denis Vaughan-Buckley, for the State, described him as "a rich man, a millionaire" but said that he had owed "a lot of money" and would have been in huge trouble financially if he separated from Ms Kearney.

Her body was found at the family home in Carnroe, Knocknashee, Goatstown, south Dublin, on February 28, 2006.

A post-mortem examination revealed that she died from ligature strangulation but had suffered many injuries that were more consistent with manual strangulation.

Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan, presiding, with Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne and Mr Justice John MacMenamin decided to reserve judgment.

Legal sources said a decision was unlikely before the new legal term in October.

Irish Independent

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