Tuesday 23 January 2018

Slain couple sought court protection from suspect (75)

Kim and Kevin McGuirk
Kim and Kevin McGuirk
Murder suspect Erwin Poppinger, at Alberton Magistrates Court in South Africa yesterday

Shane Hickey and Stuart Maclean

AN Irishman and his wife applied for a restraining order against the man accused of murdering them shortly before their brutal killing in South Africa.

Stark details of the poor relationship which existed between Kevin and Kim McGuirk and her father Erwin Poppinger (75) have emerged in court following the married couple's deaths early last week.

They were found dead from gunshot wounds in the home they shared with Mr Poppinger, who has been charged with their murders, outside Johannesburg.

Yesterday, it emerged that Ms McGuirk went to court on August 11 -- four days before they were shot -- to request an interim protection order against her father.

In a statement she told how the retired mechanic had repeatedly threatened to kill her and her husband Kevin, a father of five from Dublin, following a long-running row over money.

Papers filed to the Alberton Magistrates Court detailed how the pensioner's daughter and son-in-law had taken to sleeping with their bedroom door locked amid fears he could attack them.

Ms McGuirk described how her father repeatedly harassed and intimidated them at the home they shared in Alberton, which is located outside of Johannesburg.

"Mr Poppinger will scream and shout indiscriminately at us and he intimidates us. We are frightened of what he might do and now sleep with our bedroom door locked," a handwritten note from Ms McGuirk said.


The statement also detailed how Mr Poppinger tormented the couple with erratic and threatening behaviour and had threatened to kill them in June.

The protection order application was submitted to a magistrate at Alberton Magistrates Court on August 11 and was due to be considered by officials.

However, it had not been granted by the time Mr and Ms McGuirk were found dead last Tuesday.

The McGuirks had been looking at different properties in recent weeks with a view to moving out.

If the order had been granted, it could have taken a number of forms -- from revoking Mr Poppinger's firearms licence to ensuring he left them alone if they moved out of the house they shared.

Mr Poppinger was yesterday remanded again in custody after a magistrate postponed a hearing in which he had been expected to apply for bail.

His lawyer Neels Kotze said he believed the former mechanic had finally reacted after a row over the household electricity bill.

"It is clear there was a long-running disagreement between my client, his daughter and her husband," he said.

"There had been an application for a protection order, and relations were bad. Last week there was a big row about an electricity bill and then the shooting occurred."

The McGuirk family released a statement earlier this week saying Kevin (54) and Kim (34) were devoted to each other and had a passion for life.

Mr Poppinger has spent a week in custody after being arrested following the deaths.

"My client has given his version of events to police but has not made any formal written confession," Mr Kotze said.

"He intends to tell the court at a later date what happened, and says the couple had actually moved to attack him on the night.

"From what he has told me, it seems he was sick of his daughter and her husband staying at his house.

"Things had deteriorated so badly that he felt like he was a prisoner in his own home. He said he rarely left his bedroom and had his own fridge installed in there so he wouldn't have to see the other two," Mr Kotze added.

Irish Independent

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