Monday 20 November 2017

Jury urged not to let pity cloud judgment after harrowing trial

Brigid Maguire
Brigid Maguire

Andrew Phelan

'I can't do this," the 14-year-old boy sobbed as he gave evidence in his father's murder trial. After a break, he returned to finish telling the Central Criminal Court jury about his troubled family life in the months before Danny Keena strangled the boy's mother to death.

In the courtroom, his loved ones stifled their own tears as the teenager continued with his account of his "bully" father's abuse of his mother Brigid Maguire before she finally left him.

His older sister Jade told the jury about the moment she came home to find their mother dead on her bedroom floor after her father had killed her.

She ran for help, screaming: "I think mammy is dead."

After four days of evidence in a relatively brief but harrowing trial, the jurors have been urged not to let their pity for Brigid Maguire's children "cloud their judgment" as they consider a verdict.

The seven men and five women began deliberations yesterday and when they return on Monday they will try to decide whether Danny Keena's killing of his estranged partner was manslaughter or murder.

Jade Maguire Photo: Collins Courts
Jade Maguire Photo: Collins Courts

Mr Keena, from Empor, Ballynacargy, Co Westmeath, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Maguire at her home at Main Street, Ballynacargy, on November 14, 2015.

She had moved to that rented house with her children around two months earlier.

Mr Keena admits choking Ms Maguire to death, but claims provocation after, he says, she told him that he was a bad father. His defence has maintained that he "lost his mind" and all control when he throttled her against a wardrobe.

The prosecution has not accepted his manslaughter plea. Mr Keena did not give evidence but his defence has relied heavily on his own description of killing his wife, which was given to gardaí in five lengthy interviews.

Mr Keena told gardaí he argued with Ms Maguire after going to her house to talk about their son having missed school.

"She said, 'You are no good to them children,'" he told gardaí.

He suspected her of 'cheating' and a text came to her phone.

"I said, 'That must be your f**king partner in Mullingar,'" he continued.

"She jumped up off the bed and came at me real violently."

She had her two hands out into his face and he put his hands out to push her back.

"That is when I flipped," he said. "I moved them onto her neck."

He said he choked her for about 60 seconds before she fell down "gurgling", her tongue blue.

He told gardaí he tried to revive her.

"I got down on my knees and started crying. I said, 'Don't die, Brigie, don't die,'" he said.

Mr Keena said he ran without calling an ambulance because he "panicked", then "drove home like a mad man".

He told gardaí he went to hang himself in a shed, then drown himself in the River Inny but did not go through with either suicide attempt because he saw his son's face.

Mr Keena had said he "lived for" his 14-year-old son and had only gone to the house to talk about him having missed school.

He denied intending to kill Brigid, saying it was a "pure accident" and "I lost control of myself."

Mr Keena told gardaí he was aware of his strength and that he had a "temper".

"The reason Danny Keena did what he did is because he was angry, he was jealous, he was bitter, he was thin-skinned," the prosecution said.

However, the defence argued that Mr Keena had been sent "utterly out of control" by a remark that was "one of the most hurtful things you could say to a man".

It is now up to the jury to decide.

Irish Independent

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