Sunday 22 September 2019

Love triangle killer faces life in prison after murder conviction

Stabbed: Keith Connorton (pictured) was found guilty of killing Graham McKeever
Stabbed: Keith Connorton (pictured) was found guilty of killing Graham McKeever

Eoin Reynolds

A man has been found guilty of murder for stabbing his love rival to death after he came home to find him sleeping with his partner.

Keith Connorton (40) had denied murdering 32-year-old Graham McKeever at his home at Deerpark Avenue, Tallaght, on February 18, 2017.

During the trial, the jury heard that Connorton was living with his long-term partner Claire McGrath at Deerpark Avenue, but after an argument she invited Mr McKeever to spend the night with her.

When Connorton returned home at 4am, he found the two of them together and a fight broke out that resulted in Mr McKeever suffering four stab wounds, including one that penetrated his heart and killed him.

The accused said he acted in self-defence after Mr McKeever punched him, breaking his eye socket, and then came at him with a knife.

After deliberating for about two hours and 51 minutes, the jury of nine men and three women came back to court and asked if they could be allowed to return a majority verdict.

Graham McKeever
Graham McKeever

Justice Tony Hunt told them that a verdict could be returned if 10 of them agreed. About 10 minutes later, they returned to reveal their verdict of guilty of murder by a 10 to two majority.

Connorton will be sentenced to life imprisonment on January 28 when his victim's family will have an opportunity to make a statement to the court about the impact his death has had on their lives.

Connorton showed little reaction following the verdict while members of Mr McKeever's family hugged and comforted one another.

Justice Hunt thanked the jury for their "commitment and attention" in what he said was a difficult matter.

He said it was made all the more tragic because nobody set out on that day with "anything like this in mind, but it happened". He said the difficulty of their task was etched on their faces before exempting them from jury service for 12 years and wishing them a happy Christmas.

Justice Tony Hunt had told the jury that there were three possible verdicts available to them: guilty, not guilty, or not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. They could find him guilty of manslaughter if they found that he was acting in self-defence but used excessive force.

Had he been acting in self-defence and used only reasonable force, he told the jury to acquit. If he was not acting in self-defence and intended to kill or cause serious injury, then the appropriate verdict would be murder.

Ms McGrath and Connorton have made up since the events of February 2017 and are once again in a relationship, she said during the trial.

She visits him regularly in prison. During his interviews with gardaí, Connorton said that all he wanted was a "happy wee family" with Ms McGrath and his son. "Now that's all ruined," he added.

Irish Independent

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