Saturday 17 March 2018

Daughter of man charged with murdering her mother 'must be able to live in family home without interference', court rules

Stock photo: keys
Stock photo: keys

Tim Healy

The daughter of a man charged with murdering her mother must be allowed to return to live in the family home without any interference from his relatives, the High Court ordered.

Danny Keena (53), who lived with his partner Brigid Maguire and their two children at Empor, Ballynacargy, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, was charged last year with murdering Ms Maguire at Main Street, Ballynacargy, on November 14, 2015.

He is currently on remand in Castlerea prison awaiting trial due to take place next January. 

He denies murder.

His 19 year old daughter Jade Maguire last May obtained a High Court order preventing her father from reducing his assets below €350,000 and from selling, letting, mortgaging or transferring the family home at Empor.

The house is worth around €160,000 and is built on part of a 20 acre farm, worth around €190,000, which Mr Keena inherited from his father.

Jade and her 14 year old brother Daniel have been living with their aunt Loretta since last November and Jade now wants to move back into the family home which is in the joint names of her father and mother.

Since the death of their mother, Ms Maguire says their financial circumstances have changed drastically and their father has made no financial provision for them.

Ms Maguire, who is a trainee hairdresser, hopes to eventually offer her services as a hairdresser from the house she was reared in.

Her father believes it is not appropriate for them to live alone in the house and they are "far better off" residing with their aunt Loretta Maguire.

He wants to let the house so that he can provide for his children with the income from it.

Ms Maguire says in an affidavit that since the tragic event in November the response of her father and his family has been "most unsettling".

Mr Keena's brothers Tom and Brendan, and sister Bernie, have been regularly visiting the former family home and appeared to be carrying out extensive redecoration and some tidying of the gardens, she said.

The locks were changed but, Ms Maguire alleged, people representing her father changed them again.

In a replying affidavit sworn last month in Castlerea Prison, Danny Keena said he is at "a complete loss" to understand how Jade is of the view that he intends selling the home or farm.

In relation to redecoration of the house, he said Jade is aware he intends to let the property so he can provide for them and his solicitor had conveyed this desire to her legal representatives.

He felt Daniel, in particular, was "far better off residing with his Aunt".

He intends to do his best to provide for them by letting the house "for so long as I am n prison".   He pointed out the 20 acres is poor land and there would not be much demand for it but he was prepared to let it too while he is in prison.

There are five cattle on the land, two of which he owns and three belonging to his brother Tommy who looks after all the cattle and does not have any land of his own.

He claimed a fund raising night was held for the children in Mullingar which raised a substantial sum for them.

He is "desirous of reconciling" with his daughter and "having whatever relationship is possible with my son Daniel".

He understands is it is a very difficult time for his children "and I have no desire to make matters more difficult".

He hopes to return and live in the family home when released from prison and to continue farming.  "It is my sincere hope that in due course I can salvage whatever relationship is possible with my children".

His lawyers urged the court to change the order to allow him to take steps to rent it.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said the court would "not entertain" the proposal that the house should be let and the previous order preventing this from happening would remain in place.

The two children are to be allowed "without interference from family members of the father" to live there, he said.

He did not see any circumstances how Ms Maguire, who is now 19, could be prevented from living there at the behest of Mr Keena's family.

"In my view, she can go back and live in the family home and her 14-year-old brother can also go back or stay with his aunt and uncle if he wants."

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