Tuesday 21 August 2018

'He never thought of us when he murdered our beautiful mother' - daughter delivers powerful statement as man jailed for life for murder of his ex-partner

“Mammy had the most beautiful smile and now we will only see her smile in pictures,” heartbroken daughter told court as her father was jailed for life

Jade Maguire delivered a victim impact statement at Dublin Central Criminal Court after Danny Keena of Empor, Ballynacargy was sentenced to mandatory life for the murder of 43-year-old Brigid Maguire
Jade Maguire delivered a victim impact statement at Dublin Central Criminal Court after Danny Keena of Empor, Ballynacargy was sentenced to mandatory life for the murder of 43-year-old Brigid Maguire
Danny Keena (55) was jailed for life for killing his estranged partner Brigid Maguire (43). Her daughter Jade Maguire delivered a powerful victim impact statement in court

Andrew Phelan

The heartbroken daughter of murder victim Brigid Maguire has said finding her mother dead on the floor would "haunt her forever" and she would never forgive her father for killing her.

Jade Maguire said her mother had been "full of life" and now her grieving family would only ever see her beautiful smile in pictures.

She was giving victim impact evidence as her father Danny Keena (55) was jailed for life today for the murder of her mother, who he strangled to death after a row.

Keena was sentenced for killing his estranged partner Brigid (43), who he had earlier subjected to serious domestic violence, including a previous choking attack.

Convicted murderer Danny Keena
Convicted murderer Danny Keena

The Co Westmeath farmer was found guilty of her murder on Monday, following a four-day trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Keena, from Empor, Ballynacargy, Co Westmeath had admitted manslaughter but pleaded not guilty to murdering Brigid at her home at Main Street, Ballynacargy on November 14, 2015.

His defence had claimed provocation, saying he had "lost his mind" when she called him a bad father during a row in her bedroom.

“On the 14th of November, 2015 our lives changed forever,” Jade Maguire said today in a statement on behalf of her family, including her 14-year-old brother. “Our dear, beloved mother… was cruelly taken from us.”

Her mother’s murder had left a “huge void in our family’s life and things will never be the same for us” or their small community, she said.

Her mother had been full of life, and was a kind, caring, religious person, she said, and would put others before herself. She said her mother had loved her work in hospital, where she was a care assistant.

“Mammy had the most beautiful smile and now we will only see her smile in pictures,” she said.

They could not sleep at night and when they did, they had “scary, bad dreams.”

“I will never forget seeing my beautiful mother lying on the floor, it will haunt me forever,” she said.

“We are all full of anger, hurt and grief which time will never heal,” the statement continued.

“We will never forgive Danny Keena for what he has done, he never thought of me (and my brother) when he murdered our beautiful mother,” Jade said.

“Even with the guilty verdict, there was no joy, it will never bring our beautiful mother back,” her statement concluded.

"As prescribed by law, I hereby sentence you to be imprisoned for life," Judge McCarthy said to Keena, who stood and did not react before being led away.

During the trial, the jury heard Brigid had moved out of the family home weeks before she was killed to a rented house with her now 14-year-old son and Jade.

Jade Maguire found her mother's body on arriving home.

“I was shouting Mammy, but I didn’t get no response,” she said.

Keena was “always very violent towards my mother, very abusive, literally the whole time" and once waved a hammer in his mother's face, “saying he was going to kill her.”

Keena went missing after the discovery of the body and turned up at a neighbour's house 24 hours later after "running wild", through woods and sleeping in a barn.

Keena told gardai he had argued with Brigid after he went to her house to talk about their son having missed school.

“She said ‘you are no good to them children, that is what has us here in this house’,” he told gardai. “I said you are some mother to them, whoring in and around Mullingar.”

The court heard he had suspected her of cheating on him.

“She jumped up off the bed and came at me real violently,” he said.

She had her two hands out into his face and he put his hands onto her shoulders to block her.

“I moved them onto her neck.”

He "had her up against the wardrobe, choking her for 60 seconds" before she fell down, he said.

“Her tongue was all blue, she was fighting for her life at this stage.”

He tried unsuccessfully to revive her, he said.

He denied he had meant to kill Brigid.

“I didn’t know what I was at, I lost control of myself, I didn’t know what I was at at that moment.”

A post mortem showed Brigid had died by hypoxia caused by “excessive pressure applied externally to the neck”.

Keena’s son gave evidence at the trial via video link, describing his father as a “bully” and telling the jury his father would “always taken everything out on Mammy.”

Jade spoke briefly outside the court to thank investigating gardai and urge domestic abuse sufferers to seek help.

“We are relieved to get justice for my Mammy. Sadly, it won’t bring Mammy back. I would like to advise anyone else who is suffering from domestic abuse not to be afraid to seek help as soon as possible so you won’t end up like my mother,” she said.

“We would just like to thank the gardai from Mullingar Garda Station for their support and hard work. We would also like to thank the jury members for seeking the truth,” Jade added.

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