Wednesday 18 September 2019

Jury sent home after hours of deliberation in trial of man accused of murdering partner

Brigid Maguire
Brigid Maguire
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

The jury in the trial of a man accused of murdering the mother of his children by strangling her to death has been sent home for the weekend.

The seven men and five women in the Danny Keena murder trial had been considering a verdict for two hours and 11 minutes when Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy told them to suspend deliberations and return on Monday morning.

The jury is considering a verdict in the trial of Mr Keena (55), who is charged with the murder of his estranged partner Brigid Maguire (43) at her home in Co Westmeath.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy concluded delivering his charge to the jurors this afternoon.

They have been told there are two verdict options open to them: not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter; or guilty of murder.

Mr Keena admits he strangled Ms Maguire to death but denies murder. His defence is arguing provocation, saying he was “out of his mind” after Ms Maguire told him he was a bad father.

The accused, from Keena of Empor, Ballynacargy, Co Westmeath is pleading not guilty to murdering Ms Maguire Main Street, Ballynacargy on November 14, 2015.

Their daughter Jade found her dead on the floor of her bedroom at the rented house they had moved to after leaving the family home weeks earlier.

The prosecution has not accepted Mr Keena's plea of guilty to manslaughter.

In his charge, which summarised the evidence and gave the jury directions on the law, Judge McCarthy said a defence of provocation can only succeed if they find there was a “sudden, unforeseen onset of passion”  that totally deprived the accused of self control.

He told the jury it was not sufficient for them to find that Danny Keena (55) lost his temper when he killed Brigid Maguire and the loss of self control “must be total.”

Judge McCarthy said the killing of Ms Maguire was not in dispute in the case, but told the jury that apart from the physical element of the killing they had to consider the mental element.

A “guilty mind” was necessary to prove murder and the prosecution had to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused intended to cause death or serious injury, he said.

“A person can be guilty of murder even if they do not intend to kill the deceased, it is sufficient that there is an intention to cause serious injury if not death,” he said.

The defence of provocation can arise when a person is provoked by the actions or words or both of the deceased to the extent that they lose all self control, the judge continued.

The loss of self control must be total and the reaction must come suddenly, he said

“There must be a sudden, unforeseen onset of passion that totally deprived the accused of self control,” he said.

The foreman of the jury asked the judge if the jurors could be given a written definition of provocation, but the judge said this was not permitted and he verbally repeated the definition.

He also told the jury the intention must be present at the time of the killing but "can be formed in an instant."

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