Monday 19 March 2018

Daughter denies she had more to do with her father's death

'Husband did it for you,' murder trial told

Nicola Anderson

THE daughter of a man beaten to death at his home more than 23 years ago yesterday denied she "had more to do with her father's death than she was admitting".

Veronica McGrath was in the witness box for a second day yesterday at the trial of her mother and former husband -- undergoing cross-examination.

Vera McGrath (61) has pleaded not guilty to murdering her then 43-year-old husband, Bernard Brian McGrath, at their home in Lower Coole, Westmeath, 23 years ago.

Veronica McGrath's former husband, Colin Pinder (47) of Liverpool, England, has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter on a date unknown between March 10 and April 18, 1987.

On Monday, Ms McGrath told the court that she had watched as Mr Pinder and her mother attacked her father, Bernard Brian McGrath, with a wrench, a slash hook and a lump hammer, killing him and then disposing of his body in a shallow grave before digging up the remains some months later and burning the body in a fire.

Yesterday, barrister Patrick Gageby, for Vera McGrath, put it to Ms McGrath that on the evening of her father's death, Mr Pinder had told Ms McGrath that he had killed her father for her sake, saying: "I did it all for you."

Veronica McGrath said that she did not remember this comment. Mr Gageby then put it to her that she had more to do with her father's death than she would care to admit.

Ms McGrath denied this, saying: "Everything I have said is what happened, it's the truth."

Later, he put it to her that she was "not the vulnerable witness then or now and it is, in fact, not your mother who is dominant, it is yourself" -- but she denied this.

"I suggest that you are more calculating and manipulative than you care to point out," Mr Gageby said. But again Ms McGrath replied that this was not true.

Veronica McGrath wept as she told him that she was "haunted" by the events of that evening.

It emerged during the cross-examination that Ms McGrath had a succession of men in her life and that she had been married twice and had five children, at least one of whom ended up in care, while two daughters now live with their Lebanese father, a Mr Waffa, in England.

Her mother, Vera attended the birth of her last child in January 2009 and her mother had also taken some of her sons to live with her on several occasions.


Ms McGrath also accepted that she had taken barring orders out against several individuals to prevent them from entering the family home at Coole, Co Westmeath, where she now lives with her young daughter.

Ms McGrath agreed that there had also been some difficulty with Mr Waffa over a "deception thing" where he had given her 12 gold credit cards which he got by lodging money to banks and then running up the limit.

She admitted making allegations of a serious nature against Mr Waffa. However, when the case came up, she was called to give evidence against him but did not do so.

Ms McGrath wept as Mr Gageby put it to her that she had excluded from her initial statement in 1993 her evidence that she had witnessed the first blow being struck in the attack on her father.

Mr Gageby said only a "calculating person" wouldn't have mentioned seeing the first blow. In tears, Ms McGrath said this was not true.

She also denied hearing her father frequently threaten to kill her mother and dispose of her body in the septic tank. Mr Gageby put it to her that he had threatened to kill her mother with a hatchet on the night of his own death but she could not recall this.

Ms McGrath revealed that her father had gone to the Artane Industrial School but she did not recall him ever telling her of any abuse he had endured.

He had only ever beaten his own sons on one occasion and had never beaten her.

Ms McGrath later admitted that she had "vague memories" of her father being committed to St Loman's psychiatric hospital in March 1985 but she couldn't remember an incident leading up to that, only that she believed there had been "arguments and fighting" between him and her mother.

She also could not remember being party to having him committed. The trial continues.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News