Tuesday 17 September 2019

'We will never forgive him' - Murder victim's daughter will be 'haunted forever'

Danny Keena (55) was jailed for life for killing his estranged partner Brigid Maguire (43). Her daughter Jade Maguire delivered a powerful victim impact statement in court
Danny Keena (55) was jailed for life for killing his estranged partner Brigid Maguire (43). Her daughter Jade Maguire delivered a powerful victim impact statement in court
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

Jade Maguire's voice was steady and unwavering as she delivered her brief but harrowing victim impact statement to the hushed court.

The young woman never faltered as she recalled the heart-stopping moment when she returned home to find her "beautiful mother" Brigid dead on her bedroom floor, strangled by her father.

Jade Maguire: 'We are full of anger, hurt and grief which time will never heal'
Jade Maguire: 'We are full of anger, hurt and grief which time will never heal'

It was a sight that would haunt her forever, Jade said, and indeed she and her younger brother had suffered sleepless nights since, having "scary, bad dreams".

Staring straight ahead from the dock, Jade's father Danny Keena never looked at his daughter as she sat in the witness box to his left.

Minutes later, the killer got to his feet as Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy handed down the mandatory life sentence for murder. Dressed in a dark suit and white shirt, he nodded almost imperceptibly as the judge said "as prescribed in law, I hereby sentence you to be imprisoned for life".

He showed no other reaction as he was led away.

Keena, from Empor, Ballynacargy, Co Westmeath, had admitted strangling Brigid Maguire (43), a hospital care assistant, at her home on November 14, 2015.

But his defence had claimed provocation, saying he had "lost his mind" when she called him a bad father during a row in her bedroom.

He only offered a plea to manslaughter, denying that the killing was murder.

Although his admissions shortened the ensuing trial, his denial meant Jade had to relive the horror of that night by giving evidence. Her 14-year-old brother too had to endure the trauma of a criminal trial.

"On November 14, 2015, our lives changed forever," Jade said yesterday in her victim impact statement. "Our dear, beloved mother … was cruelly taken from us."

The murder had left a "huge void in our family's life and things will never be the same" for the family or their small community, she said.

Brigid had been full of life, and was a kind, caring, religious person, she said, and would put others before herself.

She said her mother had loved her work in hospital, where she was a care assistant.

"Mammy had the most beautiful smile and now we will only see her smile in pictures," Jade told the court.

They could not sleep at night and when they did, they had "scary, bad dreams".

"I will never forget seeing my beautiful mother lying on the floor, it will haunt me forever," she said.

"We are all full of anger, hurt and grief which time will never heal.

"We will never forgive Danny Keena for what he has done, he never thought of me (and my brother) when he murdered our beautiful mother," Jade said.

"Even with the guilty verdict, there was no joy, it will never bring our beautiful mother back," she concluded.

The benches where Brigid's loved ones sat remained silent throughout the proceedings, and when they emerged from the Criminal Courts of Justice, Jade made one final brief statement.

"We are relieved to get justice for my mammy. Sadly, it won't bring mammy back. I would like to advise anyone else who is suffering from domestic abuse not to be afraid to seek help as soon as possible so you won't end up like my mother," she said.

During the trial, the jury heard that weeks before Brigid was killed she had moved out of the family home with her children to a rented house at Main Street, Ballynacargy.

Jade gave evidence of finding her mother's body.

"I was shouting 'mammy', but I didn't get no response," she said.

She told the jury Keena was "always very violent towards my mother, very abusive, literally the whole time".

Keena went missing after the discovery of the body and turned up at a neighbour's house 24 hours later after "running wild" through woods and sleeping in a barn.

He told gardaí he had argued with Brigid after he went to her house to talk about their son having missed school.

"She said 'you are no good to them children, that is what has us here in this house'," he told gardaí. "I said you are some mother to them, whoring in and around Mullingar."

The court heard he had suspected her of cheating on him.

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

He claimed that she had her two hands out into his face and he put his hands onto her shoulders to block her. "That is when I flopped," he said. "I moved them on to her neck."

He "had her up against the wardrobe, choking her for 60 seconds" before she fell down, he said.

"Her tongue was all blue, she was fighting for her life at this stage."

He tried unsuccessfully to revive her, he claimed - as he denied he had meant to kill Brigid. "I didn't know what I was at, I lost control of myself," he said.

A post-mortem examination showed Brigid had died by hypoxia caused by "excessive pressure applied externally to the neck".

Keena's son gave evidence via video link, describing his father as a "bully" and telling the jury his father would "always take everything out on mammy".

The jury reached its majority verdict on Monday, after four hours and 55 minutes spent deliberating.

Irish Independent

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