‘He’d never leave my mother alone’ – boy testifies in murder trial

Brigid Maguire’s son says his father had wielded a hammer and threatened to kill her

Brigid Maguire: Danny Keena of Empor, Ballynacargy, Co Westmeath is charged with her murder. Photograph: Facebook

Brigid Maguire: Danny Keena of Empor, Ballynacargy, Co Westmeath is charged with her murder. Photograph: Facebook

 

A man who is on trial for strangling the mother of his two children to death was angry, jealous and bitter at the time he attacked her, a murder trial has heard.

Danny Keena (55), of Empor, Ballynacargy, Co Westmeath, is charged with the murder of Brigid Maguire (43) at her home on Main Street, Ballynacargy on November 14th, 2015. He has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to her manslaughter.

In his closing speech, Remy Farrell SC, prosecuting, said this case was one of the least appropriate for a defence of provocation. Mr Keena had previously strangled Ms Maguire to the point of dizziness, the court heard.

Mr Farrell recalled evidence from the accused’s children and niece that he had threatened to kill his partner on previous occasions. He had also described to his niece the method he would use to take his own life afterwards.

This showed that he had certainly given a little thought to killing her and what he would do afterwards, counsel said.

Mr Farrell said this was not a case of provocation but rather “one of the clearest cases of murder you might hope for”.

“This is a man who had committed the act of strangulation on his partner prior to actually killing her,” he said. “The defence say that the last occasion where he did it is the occasion where he lost complete control and that it’s not really his fault . . . she provoked him.”

He added: “The reason he did what he did was because he was angry, he was jealous, he was bitter.”

Separated

Colm Smyth SC, defending, asked the jury to consider the circumstances that prevailed at the time. The couple had separated and his client was finding it difficult to be away from his children.

It had come to Mr Keena’s attention that their son had been absent from school and he approached the house to speak to Ms Maguire about this.

“Brigid was texting during this time,” he continued. “It’s clear she wasn’t listening to him and told him to ‘f**k off’ and ‘get the f**k out of the house’.”

The accused maintains that at this time “it was declared by Brigid that he was no good of a father” which deeply hurt him, Mr Smyth said.

“You must look through his eyes, warts and all,” he added. “It’s probably one of the most hurtful things you can say to a man . . . It brings into question everything a man stands for.”

Mr Smyth added: “To say that because he was an abuser in the past, he was not entitled to the defence of provocation is utter nonsense,” he said. “If ever there was a case where provocation should apply, I suggest it’s this case.”

Earlier, the couple’s teenage son testified, via video link, that the accused had previously threatened to kill his mother.

Upset

He became upset as soon as Mr Farrell asked him to describe what it was like when he and his sister were living with their parents.

“It was really sad because he’d never leave my mother alone and he’d always pick on her,” he replied. “He’d threaten her and say everything was your fault and all this. He would say I’d kill you.”

The boy recalled being woken one night when he was in sixth class. “I walked in and he held the hammer and was threatening her,” he said. “I was so scared that me and my sister were trying to protect her. He told us to go away but we didn’t.”

He said his father then went and got a poker. “Only for we were there that night,” he said, “if I went away, he would have done something really bad to my mother.”

The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of seven men and five women.