Dad's apology for killing mother is 'too late', daughter tells court
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 Ms 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.
"There was a hammer and a poker and he tried to choke my mother as well."
She described how she had been in her room and she could hear her father shouting at her mother.
She said the accused took a hammer out and started waving it in 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 said.
The accused left the room and came back with a poker, which he "waved, trying to get at mammy. Later we tried to leave and he stopped us with a baseball bat".
They 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.
She found 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," she said.
Defence barrister Colm 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.
Mr Smyth also told her that his client disputed ever threatening her, her mother or brother with a hammer or poker.
The accused man's brother, Brendan Keena, testified that he and another brother accompanied a garda to a relative's house the following night, after being told that the accused had turned up there.
"There were marks on his arms, blood, scrapes and scratches," he told the court.
"I just said to him: 'Jesus, I didn't think I'd find you alive'. He said he did think about it (suicide). He said couldn't do it because of the kids."
Under cross-examination by Mr Smyth, he agreed that he heard the accused tell the garda: "She told me I was a bad father."
Prosecution barrister Remy Farrell SC had earlier told the jury the cause of Ms Maguire's death was strangulation.
The barrister said that suspicion had immediately fallen on the accused for a number of reasons, including the fact that he was nowhere to be seen.
"He had effectively gone on the run and had slept rough," he said, explaining that he had turned up at a neighbour's house the following day and admitted the killing.
"What you're going to have to decide is: did he intend to do so?" said the barrister.
"In this case, you're going to have to consider what was the natural and probable consequence of strangulation."
Mr Farrell also said that a manslaughter conviction could arise out of a defence of provocation, where the deceased had said or done something to make the accused lose total self-control.
"So, an exceptional situation," he suggested, explaining that there had to be no time for passions to cool.
"That may be something you'll have to consider here," he continued. "Strangulation is not something that occurs in the blink of an eye."
He said there'd be evidence in the case that Brigid Maguire fought for her life.
The trial continues.