Monday 11 December 2017

'Her tongue was all blue, she was fighting for her life' - Mum cried 'I'm dying' as partner choked her against a wardrobe, court hears

Witness Jade Maguire who is the daughter of accused, Danny Keena, and the victim, Brigid Maguire leaves the Central Criminal Court in Dublin today. Mr Keena is on trial for the murder of Brigid Maguire at Main Street, Ballynacargy in November, 2015. He has pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to her manslaughter. Pic Collins Courts. Inset: Brigid Maguire
Witness Jade Maguire who is the daughter of accused, Danny Keena, and the victim, Brigid Maguire leaves the Central Criminal Court in Dublin today. Mr Keena is on trial for the murder of Brigid Maguire at Main Street, Ballynacargy in November, 2015. He has pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to her manslaughter. Pic Collins Courts. Inset: Brigid Maguire

Andrew Phelan

A FATHER-of-two who strangled his partner to death told gardai she fell to the floor of her bedroom saying “I’m dying” after he choked her against a wardrobe for 60 seconds.

Danny Keena (55) said he tried to revive Brigid Maguire (43) after her tongue turned blue and she started gurgling, but the “damage was done.”

Brigid Maguire
Brigid Maguire

He had not meant to kill her and dropped to his knees, crying  “Brigie, don’t die,” then left the house in a panic, he said.

Mr Keena said in garda interviews Ms Maguire had told him he was “no good” as a father and he had accused her of seeing another man before she became violent and he choked her.

Memos of the interviews he gave to gardai following his arrest were read out to the jury by prosecution barrister John Hayden at Mr Keena’s trial today.

Mr Keena, a farmer from Empor, Ballynacargy, Co Westmeath denies the murder of Ms Maguire at Main Street, Ballynacargy on November 14, 2015.

Ms Maguire was living with her children at the rented house on Main Street when their daughter Jade found her strangled on the floor.

The prosecution has not accepted his plea of guilty to manslaughter.

Detective Sergeant Brian Willoughby told the Central Criminal Court the accused was interviewed four times at Mullingar Garda Station, starting at 10.57pm on November 15, 2015.

In the interviews, the accused told gardai he went to the house to talk to Ms Maguire about their son Daniel missing school days. He said he was in an “awful way” about it and had thought of nothing else but his son since they had left.

He said he asked to take their son to his house on Mondays to Fridays and that she replied that “Daniel is in good hands here with me.”

Mr Keena said he asked “how could he” when his son was never there when he called.

He said she replied “you are some father, you take good care of him,” and he told her to keep her voice down.

She went upstairs, he followed her and she told him to leave her alone, he continued. He told her he just wanted to talk about Daniel and she sat on the bed and started “roaring and shouting” at him, he said.

“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, w*****g in and around Mullingar. I was vexed at this stage.”

He said Ms Maguire was sitting with her back to the headboard and her phone in her hand and a text came on the phone.

“I said, ‘that must be your f*****g partner in Mullingar, you must be going to meet him’”, his statement continued. “I said just go and w***e yourself around Mullingar.”

“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 out to block her, he said. His two hands would have been on each of her shoulders to push her back.

“That is when I flopped,” he said. “I moved them onto her neck.”

The accused said Ms Maguire had her back against the wardrobe at that stage and was “roaring.”

According to the memo of interview, he put his hands on a garda’s neck to demonstrate.

“What were you doing there?” the garda asked him.

“Choking her,” he replied.

“For how long?” he was asked.

“For a few minutes I would say,” Mr Keena replied.

Asked if she was making any noises, he said “not much”, and that she fell to the ground.

“Before this, I had her up against the wardrobe, choking her for 60 seconds,” he said. “Her tongue was all blue, she was fighting for her life at this stage.”

He said he stopped choking her when she fell and he “knew the damage was done.”

The gardai asked him if he heard anything then.

“Her gurgling,” he replied.

He was asked how much pressure he had used and answered: “a good bit of pressure there.”

“Did you want to kill her?” the garda asked and he replied: “no.”

Asked what was on his mind, he told gardai: “I just flopped, I didn’t mean to kill her at all, I didn’t go there to kill that night.”

“I knew she was dying at that stage, her tongue was sticking out and going all blue,” he continued.

He said if a cow was calving he would rub her on the belly so this is what he did to Ms Maguire and it was “working” but then “she just went, faded then.”

He said he slapped her a good few times with an open hand, he kept beating her as he thought she was “coming back.”

“I was in awful shock, I knew the harm was done,” he said. “I got down on my knees and started crying. I said don’t die, Brigie, don’t die. I knew she was going.”

He said he felt her forehead and it was going cold.

“I knew I was after killing her, that is when I panicked,” he said.

He closed the door, ran to his car and “drove home like a mad man,” he said. He parked up and ran to a cattle shed to get a rope “to do away with myself.” He said he stood up on a wheel barrow with one end of the rope around his neck and the other around a rafter and thought to himself “Danny, don’t do it.”

He then ran to the River Inny to drown himself but he was a good swimmer and got out.

He ran up the fields and thought he would see a helicopter out “after him.” Mr Keena told gardai he got into a hay bales in a shed to keep warm, slept there and stayed there the next day until Dusk, when he went to hand himself in.

In another interview, he said Ms Maguire had told him: “You think you are a good father to them but it’s the mother they love, not you” and that was when he got hurt.

He said she was violent and scraped his face before he choked her.

He told gardai she “fell to the ground and said ‘I’m dying’”.

He said he had brought Ms Maguire water after choking her and then rubbed her belly but her breathing was very heavy and her eyes were starting to close. He said he “should have called an ambulance” but panicked and ran.

In another interview, the accused told gardai about his relationship with Ms Maguire in the years and months before she died. When they were first together she “couldn’t get enough of me,” he said. Two years earlier, she had moved into her own room and they argued about her going into Mullingar to nightclubs.

He said she told him these were “girls nights out” and he would stay at home with his son.

One morning, he told gardai, he went to look for her after she had not returned home and saw her getting out of a taxi. He said he told her he checked the closing time of the nightclub and “I am after catching you red-handed.”

He said he accused her of telling lies and that she slapped him in the face and he slapped her. He also “hit her a few punches in the legs” after she kicked him, he said.

“We would have hit each other on and off over the years,” he said, adding that she was “easily marked.”

On another day, he said, she went “stone mad in the house” and he took her phone. When he went through it, he said he found she had been on to “a fella” and they had been exchanging pictures of their body parts to each other as well as “dirty talk.”

“It drove me haywire altogether,” he told gardai.

In another incident on a street, he said he told her “Facebook has driven you mad” and she started hitting him in front of everyone.

On an earlier occasion when she left him, she was in a “bad state for money” and he asked her to come back, he said.

“The phone business started in the house, Facebook day and night,” he said.

After she left him for the final time, he told gardai he “kept pestering her” to find out if she was seeing another man.

He snapped her phone off her and it hit her lip, causing it to bleed, he said. That was the last argument they had before the night of her death.

Mary Wallace Snr, a sister of the accused gave evidence of a phone call with her brother while Ms Maguire was still living with him. She agreed with Remy Farrell SC, prosecuting, that the accused had described an incident that had happened.

“Yes, himself and Brigid had an argument I think and he said he’d choked her,” Ms Wallace said.

“Did he say how Brigid was after he choked her?” Mr Farrell asked.

“He said she was OK after,” Ms Wallace replied.

She said the accused did not tell her what the argument was about and she could not remember if he said if he was “going to do anything to himself.” Ms Wallace said she was very shocked at the time she made her statement.

The trial continues.

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