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Wife-killer's appeal raps diary evidence

Judgment has been reserved in Brian Kearney's appeal against his conviction for the murder of his hotelier wife Siobhan more than four years ago.

Counsel for Kearney yesterday argued that the jury being told of the presence of a diary written by the dead woman beside her passport and €500 emergency money was prejudicial to his client.

He said it was not the presence of the diary itself but the fact that the jury was told that it was found beside the other two items.

This could only "have left the jury in a state of wonderment". While the trial judge had told the jury that the contents of the diary were not relevant, just its presence, "in the slipstream of that evidence there was a matter which was extremely prejudicial".

It all fed in to a scene of a marriage which was so unbearable that escape must be plotted and planned.

In 2008, the 51-year-old electrical contractor given a mandatory life sentence. He was found guilty at the Central Criminal court of murdering Siobhan Kearney (38), the mother of their child. Kearney's legal team also referred to a statement in the judgment that likened the finding of the diary, the passport and the money to the finding of a suitcase at the door of the house on the very day that a person was murdered.

Denis Vaughan Buckley, opposing, said the jury was not allowed to speculate and was told by the judge to adjudicate on the evidence. It was a fact that the three items were found together. Kearney, did not want a separation which was going to cost him a lot of money. He had admitted he was in the house with their child at the time of his wife's death. The defence case originally was that Mrs Kearney had committed suicide. Mrs Kearney definitely wanted a separation. There was no doubt about that. "She was murdered in the house. She didn't unfortunately get a chance to leave."

Strangled

The mother-of-one was found strangled in their home in Knocknashee, Goatstown, Co Dublin, on February 18, 2006.

During the trial the prosecution argued that her plans to leave him had not fitted in with his own financial plans. He then used a vacuum cleaner flex to strangle her.

Kearney's legal team took today's action to try and bring a challenge against his conviction to the Supreme Court.

Yesterday's hearing at the Court of Criminal Appeal was to determine if a certificate would be issued to allow him to make a final appeal to the Supreme Court. Judgment was reserved.

hnews@herald.ie


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