Monday 18 December 2017

'My dad wasn't killed over racist jibe,' daughter tells murder trial

Nicola Anderson

THE daughter of a man killed 23 years ago has denied her father was a racist who died following a row with her then fiance, whom her father had branded a "darkie or nigger".

Chief prosecution witness Veronica McGrath returned to the witness box for the third day yesterday for cross-examination in the murder trial of her mother and ex-husband.

Vera McGrath (61) has pleaded not guilty to murdering her 43-year-old husband, Bernard Brian McGrath, at their home in Lower Coole, Co Westmeath, 23 years ago.

Veronica McGrath's former husband, Colin Pinder, (47) of Liverpool, England, has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter on a date unknown between March 10 and April 18, 1987.

Under cross-examination Veronica McGrath denied she had helped beat her father to death. She also denied he had died in a racist row sparked by his finding Mr Pinder in the house.

Counsel for Mr Pinder put it to her that her father had been struck "very hard" by Mr Pinder after calling him "darkie or nigger".

"Mr Pinder thought he'd killed him and said so," Conor Devalley said.


"Between the three of you you decided not to call the police," he continued, claiming that Ms McGrath's mother then checked to see if he was alive.

Mr McGrath was moved to the backyard where it was thought he was dead but his wife discovered he was not, said Mr Devalley.

"Thereafter, Mr Pinder was goaded into hitting him again by your mother," Mr Devalley claimed, saying she had told him he would "end up in prison".

He put it to her that she and her mother took turns hitting her father. Ms McGrath insisted this was untrue.

She also denied warning Mr Pinder he would "never see his baby if he called the police".

Ms McGrath described her father as being a "well-travelled man" who had mixed with "every creed and nationality" and was "no racist".

The witness told the court that two days after her father's death, her mother had asked her to give her a "love-bite" on the cheek so that it would look like a bruise.

Earlier, a letter written by Ms McGrath after the birth of her second son in 1990 was read into court in which she had asked a Social Fund officer in the UK for a grant, claiming she had had to leave her home in Ireland "in a hurry" because of violence at the hands of her son's father.

However, she admitted this story "could have been a lie."

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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