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Trial told of 'Satanical' act of breaking up body

HE is a man so traumatised by his past that he cannot even trust his memory to put events in the right sequence.

It is almost a quarter of a century since Colin Pinder was involved in the death of Westmeath man Brian McGrath, yet he faces an ongoing struggle to "grapple" with his own history.

These were the words of Pinder's counsel Conor Devally as he delivered his closing statement to the jury.

Pinder, who has admitted manslaughter but denies murdering Brian McGrath, presented a well-dressed figure in court yesterday, head bowed as he sat at the side of the room.


There was no eye contact with his former-mother-in-law and co-accused Vera McGrath who also denies murder.

For almost five weeks, Pinder has sat through a vast number of witness testimonies, and has listened to statements from his former wife and mother-in-law who have pointed the finger at him as the person who led the killing of Brian McGrath.

Yesterday, a different story emerged, that of a young man who was shunned from a rural community and his fiance's family and ruthlessly subjected to provoking taunts.

Mr Devally conceded that there were inconsistencies in Pinder's statements to gardai.

"In 1993, he's able to speak to some degree about digging up the body. In 2008, he's not even able to tell the gardai he remembers that", he explained.

"It is not fanciful to say that Mr Pinder has a problem trying to remember. It is evident by the tone of his interviews.

"There's no evidence that he's a deceiver, a fraudster a liar, a monster." He then attempted to describe the situation which had greeted Colin Pinder when he arrived in Ireland in 1987.

He was engaged to Veronica McGrath, whose father Brian had spent his childhood in Artane Industrial School. Brian later married and had four children, but in 1985 his wife and daughter signed him in to St Loman's Mental Institution.

Mr Devally remarked: "For a man who had been deprived of all the benefits of family life as a youth, his wife and children are the very ones who throw him back into incarceration".

He suggested that by 1987, it would have been fairly obvious that Brian McGrath was losing his trust in those around him.

The prospect of being returned to an institution would have created a fresh "horror" for him. Further complicating matters was the arrival of the "then-young, no doubt dashing and, for its time, quite exotic creature Colin Pinder".


He added: "Pinder wasn't to know he was in a family that was circling around Mr McGrath, trying to get him out of the house."

In Brian McGrath's mind, Mr Devally suggested, his future-son-in-law could have been perceived as an ally of his daughter and therefore a further threat to him.

An image was painted of an isolated Colin Pinder, shunned by his future father-in-law, distrusted by locals, and utterly "alone".

Suggesting that his client was provoked by the actions of Brian McGrath, Mr Devally pointed out that Pinder is not highly educated, and certainly not manipulative.

"He doesn't have the fluency to say 'I was in a passion. Here's my defence of provocation all wrapped up'."

During the trial, a neighbour had recalled tending to Colin Pinder who is believed to have taken an overdose. This drama occurred some time after the death of Brian McGrath. Horrified with what had happened, he had embarked on an "utterly shaky and confused attempt to deal with the situation".

He also found himself dragged into the "almost satanic" act of digging up, burning, breaking up and burying Brian McGrath's remains. This "appalling ritual", suggested Mr Devally, had "eclipsed everything else" for Colin Pinder.

He was a man "under terrible pressure" in 1987, said Mr Devally. And now, 23 years on, Pinder's fate should not rest on the stories that have been "woven" between 1988 and 1993 by Vera and Veronica McGrath.

The trial continues.