Tuesday 28 January 2020

Pinder found guilty of manslaughter in cold-case trial

Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

A 47-year-old man has been found not guilty of murder but guilty of the manslaughter of his former wife's father in a cold-case murder trial.

Colin Pinder, from Liverpool in the UK, had previously admitted the manslaughter of Brian McGrath (43), who died at the family home at Lower Coole, Co Westmeath, more than 23 years ago.

The jury is still considering its verdict in relation to Mr Pinder's co-accused, Vera McGrath (61), a mother of four who has denied the murder of her husband on a date between March 10 and April 18 1987.

Mr McGrath's death became known to the authorities six years after the event.

Gardai, acting on a tip-off from chief prosecution witness Veronica McGrath, the daughter of the accused woman and ex-wife of Pinder's, discovered his charred remains in a grave in the back garden of the family home at Coole.

Pinder admitted a role in the killing in interviews with gardai held in Liverpool in 1993.

He told investigating detectives that he was shunned because of his colour by the local community when he moved to Coole with his then fiancee, Veronica McGrath.

During the trial, Pinder's barrister, Conor Devally, put forward an account of how Mr McGrath's death occurred, suggesting a row had unfolded that evening when Mr McGrath returned to his house to find Pinder, whom he did not approve of, there.

Mr McGrath directed some racist remarks towards him, causing a row to occur, Mr Devally said.

He then suggested Pinder had struck Mr McGrath, causing him to spin back, falling against the range and striking his head.

Those present in the house had then panicked and Vera McGrath and Pinder had dragged Mr McGrath's body outside, where his death subsequently occurred, he said.

All three legal teams are in agreement that Mr McGrath's body was then buried in a shallow grave before being dug up some weeks later and the remains disposed of in a bonfire.

The charred bones were put into the septic tank and into the range.


In his closing statement, Mr Devally claimed Mr McGrath's racism had caused his client to lose control and to act out of character.

He also said Pinder had been led by Veronica McGrath to believe that her father was a "monster" who was violent towards his wife and children.

"Colin Pinder knows he acted in reaction, not just to Mr McGrath, but to all that he had been made to think," Mr Devally told the court.

He said his client couldn't cope with what he had done and now wanted it off his chest, adding: "He has no life."

He also said the events of that night had shadowed his client ever since.

The trial heard that Pinder, who has epilepsy, also suffers from depression and agoraphobia, causing him to rarely leave his small Liverpool flat. At one point he tried to take his own life, the court heard.

The jury of eight men and three women took just over four hours to reach a verdict for Pinder, after a trial that has lasted for five weeks, to date.

Pinder, who had no relatives in court throughout the trial, appeared relieved when the verdict was read aloud.

Accepting the jury's findings, Judge John Edwards remanded the accused in custody and asked for his re-appearance in court on Monday morning, when the jury will resume its deliberations in the case of Vera McGrath.

Irish Independent

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