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Saturday 29 April 2017

'I'll never forgive mum for what she did to dad and this family'

Horror house is now home for victim's grandchild

Veronica
McGrath with her
daughter Nadine at their
home in Lower Coole,
Co Westmeath
Veronica McGrath with her daughter Nadine at their home in Lower Coole, Co Westmeath
The house where Vera and Brian McGrath lived in Lower Coole, Co Westmeath
Veronica, her father Brian and her brothers Andrew and Brian during childhood
Veronica aged about five years old with her father while Christmas shopping on O'Connell Street in Dublin

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

THE isolated cottage where a man was slain before being buried by his wife and daughter's ex-fiance 23 years ago is now home to his little grandchild.

Brian McGrath's remains were burned in a bonfire at his house in Lower Coole, Co Westmeath, in 1987.

But despite the horror that unfolded in the house, the victim's daughter Veronica and her 18-month-old baby girl Nadine are today living in the rural dwelling where her father met a gruesome end.

In an exclusive interview with the Irish Independent, Veronica -- who tipped-off gardai about her dad's disappearance six years after his murder -- said she has no choice but to live there because she has "nowhere else to go".

"It's very hard but I'm lucky I'm here. I just try to keep the house warm for my girl and the neighbours and local sergeant are good to us," she said.

The heartbroken mother also revealed how the next generation of her family is suffering because of the gruesome crimes of her mother Vera (61) and ex-fiance Colin Pinder.

Liverpool native Pinder (47) was jailed for nine years for manslaughter on Tuesday. Vera McGrath is serving a life sentence for the murder in the first cold-case homicide prosecution in the State's history.

Veronica described how she never knew Pinder was violent until she tried to run away from her house one day to tell gardai what she knew about her father's death.

"He was very quiet. He never showed any signs of being violent until after they killed my father. I tried to run away once and he dragged me back into the house by the hair on my head and beat me black and blue."

Veronica said she will "never be able to forgive" her mother.

"I won't be able to forgive her -- not only for brutalising my father but for the effect on me, my siblings and my own children. It's had a terrible effect, but my mum was able to carry on for years as if she didn't do anything bad."

The killing took place between March 10 and April 18, 1987. Brian McGrath's corpse was initially buried in a shallow grave in his back garden.

But Vera McGrath and Pinder later dug it up and burned it on a homemade funeral pyre. His ashes and remaining bones were hidden in drains and the septic tank. The remains lay undiscovered until 1993 when Veronica reported what had happened to her father.

Memories

Veronica said the family home in Lower Coole was her father's "pride and joy".

"He worked so hard getting it ready for us to move down from Dublin when I was six years old. I have a lot of good memories of my father in this house."

An emotional Veronica said it was "very hard" for her to relive the traumatic events this week. "Every day is a battle but I have responsibilities now. I keep strong for my little girl."

Christmas is a "very stressful" time for Veronica. She remembers how her mother Vera was "very harsh".

She added: "My dad was the only one to celebrate Christmas in our house. My mother didn't believe in it, she would say, 'It's a money-making racket'. She was a tough woman -- she'd say things like, 'When you're dead -- you're dead -- you're only a carcass'."

She expressed "hurt" that she was not allowed to read out her victim impact statement in court. "I wanted to tell people that my father was not a racist. He never could be called racist. He mixed with people of every creed and nationality and never judged."

Veronica said her father had even brought Pinder into a local pub and introduced him as his "future son-in-law".

"I always remember my father liked to help people who had less than us. He used to say he remembered how it was when he had nothing. He loved my mother," she said. "He even told me this the day he was murdered."

All Brian McGrath ever wanted was "a family", his daughter believes. But she said she lived in fear since the "events of that night".

"My world fell apart. I was trying to protect my mother out of fear for so long," she added.

Irish Independent

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