Sunday 21 July 2019

'My father was made bits of... his injuries shattered every bone' - daughter of teacher found dead in pub tells trial

Kathleen Kenny (right) and her daughter Gillian arriving at Galway Court for the trial.
Kathleen Kenny (right) and her daughter Gillian arriving at Galway Court for the trial.

Ann Healy

The daughter of Oughterard publican and teacher, John Kenny, who was found dead in his pub seven years ago, told a jury yesterday she believed a group of Romanian men, led by one man in particular, had killed her father.

Gillian Kenny told the trial: “My father was made bits of.  His injuries shattered every bone in his body. He was strangled.

Gillian Kenny was giving evidence at Galway Circuit Criminal Court during the trial of 24-year-old Marian Lingurar, Jnr., who denies the manslaughter of Mr Kenny (56), at Kenny’s Pub, Main Street, Oughterard, on September 25, 2011.

He also denies a charge of burglary by trespassing at Mr Kenny’s pub with intent to commit theft on the same date.

Opening the evidence in the trial, Mr Patrick Gageby SC, prosecuting, told the jury of four women and eight men that Mr Kenny had been left the family pub by his late mother and following an amicable separation from his wife, Kathleen, he moved in there to live.

The couple remained very good friends down through the years and were devoted to their daughter, Gillian.

He said Mr Kenny was held in very high regard at Presentation College, Athenry, where he had taught for many years and he regularly opened Kenny’s pub only at weekends. He said the pub attracted a young clientele and that Mr Kenny took a drink himself.

Mr Gageby said that a man named Florin Fitzpatrick, who was acquainted with the accused, and his father, Marian Lingurar Sr., worked in the pub at weekends.

He said that on the evening before Mr Kenny’s death, the accused, who was 16 at the time, was acting as a bouncer and was checking patron’s ages in the bar.

Earlier that evening, Lingurar Sr. had driven his son from their home in Loughgeorge, Claregalway, to work in Kenny’s pub along with Florin Fitzpatrick.  He returned around 10.30pm to bring them home and waited until patrons began to leave around 12.30am.

Then, at around 1.30am, he drove the accused and Fitzpatrick home to Galway.

Mr Gageby said that, in theory, that left just Mr Kenny - who was a “bit the worse for wear” alone in the pub.

The next morning, a man found a phone broken on the footpath across the road from the pub and left it on a ledge.

A local businessman found it around 5pm, put it back together and dialled the last number which had been used.

Gillian Kenny thought her father was ringing her. She and her mother had been trying to contact him all day and were getting worried when he had not phoned them as usual.

The man explained he had found the broken phone and the women went to the bar.

The front door of the pub was open.  They asked passer-by, Myles Upton, to come into the pub with them as they could not locate John Kenny.

Mr Upton told the trial he noticed a chair had been wedged under the handle on the ladies toilet door, preventing anyone from opening it from the inside.

He took the chair away and found Mr Kenny’s body lying on the floor.

There was a green jacket covering his head.  He was lying face down with his hands tied tightly behind his back with cable.  His trousers had been pulled down around his thighs.

Mr Gageby said a post mortem revealed Mr Kenny had suffered extensive injuries to his head, neck and trunk, both front and back.  Multiple fractures were found, front and back, consistent with blows from a large object or kicks.

Cause of death was deemed to be:  “Blunt force trauma and positional asphyxia.”

He explained that when a person’s body is placed in such a position at Mr Kenny’s was, they would find it difficult to breathe. He said it was also the case that Mr Kenny was intoxicated and that didn’t help him.

“He didn’t die from a heart attack.  He died because he was attacked, beaten, injured and left to die in the toilet of the family bar,” Mr Gageby told jurors.

He said it was the prosecution’s case that the accused, having got a lift back to Galway with his father and Florin Fitzpatrick, at 1.30am, returned to Oughterard at 2.20am and stayed there for 40 minutes.

“It’s our contention that the defendant returned to Oughterard and the only one inference we can draw from that is the desire to steal from the premises and from John Kenny and for that purpose, visit an assault on John Kenny,” Mr Gageby said.

Kathleen and Gillian Kenny confirmed John Kenny always carried cash in his pockets which he would take from the till on the nights it was open.

They told the trial that he didn’t trust Florin Fitzpatrick and had been in fear of him. 

They said the deceased had always been a kind, warm, fun-loving person but in the weeks leading up to his death something had been troubling him and he had been tearful and withdrawn.

Kathleen Kenny said he had told her he was afraid of Florin, saying:  “I’m a prisoner in my own home.

She said he indicated to her that Florin and the other (Romanian men) were keeping him prisoner and that they had taken over the pub and he had no control over them.

“I never once dreamed my father would be murdered,” Gillian Kenny told the trial.

During cross-examination by Mr Colman Fitzgerald SC, defending, who put it to her that she had told Gardai in her statement seven years ago, that she believed Florin Fitzpatrick was to blame for her father’s death.

Ms Kenny said her father was upset for a long time that Florin had been using him.  He didn't want to talk about it.  "We are left wondering why he was not himself that week. Everything said and unsaid will haunt me forever," she said.

“I know to this day who is responsible.  I believe that Florin and his associates murdered him.  There is no remorse,” she added. “We are still here looking for justice, seven years later.”

She told the jury this was the third trial she and her mother had to attend.

The trial continues tomorrow and is expected to last into next week.

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