Monday 20 November 2017

The whispered reaction of victim's family was more like a sigh of relief than a cry of victory

Stock photo
Stock photo

Andrew Phelan

When the verdict arrived, after an almost five-hour wait, it was greeted by silence.

Danny Keena, who had earlier nodded and smiled thinly to his lawyers from the dock, gave no discernible reaction on learning he had been found guilty of murder.

Staring straight ahead as the majority guilty verdict was read out by the court registrar, his eyes flickered only briefly upwards to follow the jurors as they filed out of court.

At the end of the proceedings, he rose briskly to confer with his solicitor before being led away by a prison guard.

Brigid Maguire's family had maintained a dignified silence throughout the four-day trial, some of them leaving on occasion when the evidence became too harrowing to sit through.

When the verdict was delivered, there seemed to be initial confusion about whether they had heard it correctly.

When the news sunk in, there were no shows of triumphalism from the women and men of this close-knit rural community and extended family, some of whom had to give evidence against Keena - their father, brother, uncle, neighbour.

His daughter Jade quietly raised a hand to her forehead on hearing her father was guilty of murder.

It was Jade who had returned home from a visit to her cousin's house to find her mother's lifeless body on her bedroom floor.

Her evidence, along with that of her younger 14-year-old brother, had been particularly heart-rending for her family to hear during the trial.

The teenager, who testified via video link, had broken down during his evidence but bravely returned to complete his account of the bullying and domestic abuse Keena had subjected his mother to in the months before he finally choked her to death. It was only when the judge had risen that Brigid Maguire's loved ones' careful composure seemed to break and they allowed themselves one whispered word: "Yes." But it sounded more like a sigh of relief than a cry of victory.

It was only as they gathered in the corridor outside the Central Criminal Court that they embraced and wept at the end of what must have been a two-year nightmare.

Irish Independent

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