Tuesday 20 February 2018

Woman found guilty of killing her brother

Conor Kane

A WOMAN is to be sentenced today after being found guilty of killing her brother following a house party in December 2008.

Caroline Brennan (19), of 14 Love Lane, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny, was convicted by a jury last night of the manslaughter of her brother Michael Brennan (22).

She had pleaded not guilty to murder and, following a trial at the Central Criminal Court, sitting in Waterford, was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. She was remanded on continuing bail pending sentencing today.

The trial heard that Michael Brennan was stabbed once in the heart following a party in his uncle's house in Barrack Street, Castlecomer, on December 30, 2008.

The deceased had earlier punched his girlfriend, Lisa Peagram, and sent a threatening text message to Caroline Brennan after an argument with Caroline's boyfriend.

Her brother said in the message he would "kill" her and her boyfriend Keith Byrne, only he "liked" Keith, the accused said in evidence yesterday.

She told the jury she was afraid for her life and that her brother "had gone completely mad" the night she stabbed him in the chest.

Last week the jury heard that the accused told gardai her brother was mean to her as she was growing up, and was always threatening her and bullying her. She had once woken up to find him pressing a pillow on her head and he threw her down the stairs on another occasion.

Their father, Bill Brennan, said in evidence last week that Michael used to bully Caroline and her younger sister. He was violent with drink on him, he said, and had to be put out of the family home about a year before he died.

Ms Brennan told the court yesterday that she brought the knife to the party "to threaten him with if he was at me". She had an argument with Michael when she arrived at the party because he was smoking heroin.


She left the party and sat in Mr Byrne's car and then heard Lisa Peagram, Michael Brennan's girlfriend, screaming. She saw Michael box Ms Peagram and grab her by the throat.

The accused said she went to help Ms Peagram but when she went into the house to get Ms Peagram's handbag, Michael wouldn't let her leave. He told her she "was going nowhere" and that she "was next", while waving a mop around.

"He was screaming at me. He had gone completely mad. He was putting out his arm and wouldn't let me out," she said.

"I was so scared, I made a dive for the door, it all happened when I was trying to get out," Ms Brennan said. She said she "didn't remember" stabbing her brother and that "it just happened too fast".

Dr Michael Curtis, deputy state pathologist, told the court Mr Brennan died from a single knife wound to his chest and that toxicology results were positive for cocaine, heroin and a blood alcohol count of 240mg.

Paddy McCarthy, defending, told the jury in his closing argument that Ms Brennan had been "fearing for her life" on the night of the stabbing and was "entitled to defend herself" from her brother.

John O'Kelly, for the prosecution, said Ms Brennan brought the knife to the party so she could threaten Michael but that "she didn't do that". He said she took out the knife and "stuck that knife in Mr Brennan's chest".

Irish Independent

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