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Thursday 18 January 2018

Killer McGrath undergoes tests in prison amid health concerns

Shane Phelan Investigative Correspondent

COLD-CASE killer Vera McGrath is undergoing medical tests in prison amid fears for her health.

Informed sources said yesterday that the tests were being conducted as a precaution after an initial examination of the mother of four indicated she may have an unspecified illness.

McGrath (61) was jailed for life on Monday after a jury found her guilty of murdering her husband Brian at their home in Coole, Co Westmeath, 23 years ago.

Her former son-in-law, Colin Pinder (47), is due to be sentenced later this year for Mr McGrath's manslaughter.

McGrath remained in the health unit of Mountjoy's women's prison, the Dochas Centre, for the second night in a row last night.

Prison authorities have also placed her on suicide watch and she is expected to undergo at least three days of observation before it is decided whether she can join the general prison population.

The development came as McGrath's daughter Veronica last night returned to the family home for the first time since the five-week trial of her mother and ex-husband ended.

Veronica McGrath witnessed her father's gruesome death in 1987 and her evidence was crucial to securing the convictions.

However, she said she would not be commenting on the outcome of the trial, vowing that she just wanted to get on with her life.

"I have nothing to say. Sorry about that," she told the Irish Independent.

Neighbours revealed yesterday that Veronica had paid tribute to her father by planting a cherry tree on the spot in the back garden where his remains were buried in 1987. They lay there undiscovered until 1993 when Veronica came forward to the authorities with information about her father's death.

It had previously been thought he had abandoned his family after Vera McGrath told neighbours he had gone to live abroad.



Remains

But Veronica revealed to gardai that her father was beaten to death, his remains burned, broken up with shovels and then buried at the bottom of the garden behind the family home.

Although Vera McGrath and Pinder admitted taking part in the killing at the time, they could not be charged until advances in DNA technology allowed investigators in 2008 to determine for certain the bones were those of Mr McGrath.

Meanwhile, a neighbour has revealed how he had his suspicions that something sinister had happened to Mr McGrath at the time of his disappearance.

Michael Whyte told the Irish Independent he noticed a few weeks after Mr McGrath vanished that that soil in the garden had been disturbed.

"There had been a lot of trouble in the house previous to that and it looked to me like it could have been a grave. But I didn't tell anyone," he said.

"If I had brought 30 or 40 guards with forensics and the whole lot in, and they discovered that it was only a goat buried or something, I would have looked like a right eejit."

Irish Independent

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