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Daughter's evidence has some parallels to garda statement -- made by mother 17 years ago

WHEN murder-accused Vera McGrath first spoke to gardai in 1993, she gave a statement which would have several parallels with the evidence given by her daughter in a courtroom 17 years later.

The Westmeath woman, now aged 61, was detained and interviewed by detectives at Mullingar garda station in November 1993, on suspicion of the murder of her husband Brian. And as Judge John Edwards pointed out, there are aspects of her statement which are "capable of corroborating" her daughter's evidence.

On the third day of his charge to the jury, the judge worked his way through the testimony of then-Detective Garda Aidan Glacken who had interviewed both Vera McGrath and her co-accused Colin Pinder. By then, Pinder was living in Yorkshire, his short-lived marriage to Veronica McGrath already a distant memory.



Trust

It was a tense, nervous Vera McGrath who had arrived at Mullingar station, and it took her some time to build up a level of trust that allowed her to talk freely with investigating gardai.

When she finally began to speak, she had recalled her movements on the night of her husband's killing. Yesterday, Judge Edwards recounted the details once more for the benefit of the jury, pointing out statements which could be considered to corroborate the evidence of Veronica.

The 11 men and women of the jury -- one had been discharged due to a previously booked holiday -- diligently took notes, scribbling on the transcripts of the interviews.

On the night of Brian McGrath's death, he and his wife had walked the three-mile journey to McCabe's house. Brian was a friend of the McCabe family and it was there that Veronica and Pinder had pitched their caravan. Vera wanted to deliver some letters to the young couple, and she and her husband had argued along the way.

She later told gardai that she arrived at the caravan "crying and upset" and passed the comment that she wished her husband was dead.

She explained: "At this, Colin said: "Well I've the very thing to do it".

This detail, suggested Judge Edwards, could be considered by the jury to corroborate the evidence of Veronica McGrath.

He said the same could be said of Vera's recollection of the journey back to the family home in Coole, when she said: "At the end of the road, Colin gestured to me that he was going to strike Brian now. I shook my head to tell him not to do it there".

And furthermore, Vera McGrath had described how she heard "a bang like a thud" when she got to her bedroom door and had run outside to find Brian lying on the ground.

Giving evidence earlier in the trial, Veronica McGrath had recalled seeing her mother strike her father. This tallied with the statement given by Vera: "I hit Brian lying on the ground. It must have been with the spanner that Colin had, it had to be".

Mother and daughter had also given similar accounts of Brian McGrath's last moments, and both recalled hearing a sound in his throat.



Gurgling

Vera McGrath had explained: "As I left him there lying on the ground I heard a rattling or gurgling noise. I associated this as a dying gasp".

Summarising the evidence, Judge Edwards told the jury they must decide for themselves whether the testimony of Veronica McGrath is corroborated by her mother's statements.

This morning, the two accused returned to court once more for the final segment of the judge's charge before deliberations got under way.


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