Danny Keena found guilty of murdering mother of his two children

Westmeath man (55) killed Brigid Maguire in her new home two months after she left him

Danny Keena of Empor, Ballynacargy was on trial at the Central Criminal Court, charged with the murder of 43-year-old Brigid Maguire (above) on November 14th, 2015.

Danny Keena of Empor, Ballynacargy was on trial at the Central Criminal Court, charged with the murder of 43-year-old Brigid Maguire (above) on November 14th, 2015.

 

A Co Westmeath man is facing a life sentence after being convicted of murdering the mother of his two children by strangling her two months after she left him.

Danny Keena, of Empor, Ballynacargy, was on trial at the Central Criminal Court charged with the murder of Brigid Maguire (43) on November 14th, 2015.

The 55-year-old farmer had pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to Ms Maguire’s manslaughter at her new home on Main Street, Ballynacargy. He claimed she had provoked him by telling him he was a bad father.

The court heard that Keena had previously strangled Ms Maguire to the point where she had stopped breathing. However, the jury did not hear this evidence, which was in the statement read during legal argument. Instead, the jury heard his own admission that he had previously choked her to the point of dizziness.

The trial heard that the accused and deceased were a couple for 25 years. However, the relationship became abusive, with both children saying they had seen their father being violent towards Ms Maguire.

Wielded poker

Jade Maguire, who found her mother’s body, recalled an occasion when she and her younger brother were forced to defend their mother from Keena as he wielded a poker.

She said he had first been waving a hammer and shouting that he was going to kill her. “She was very afraid and she had marks on her neck,” she said.

The children tried to calm him and he put the hammer down and left the room. However, he then returned with the poker, she said.

Her brother gave evidence via television link, due to his young age, and recalled an incident of abuse that he found extremely upsetting.

“My mother got her hair done and he just came with the milk and spilled it all over her hair and she’d done nothing to him,” he said. “I told her I hated him for what he did, for what he would be doing to her.”

He also explained that they had tried to leave Keena before and that it was good to get away. “Mammy was happy,” he said. “But, he started threatening her again. He used to call into the house.”

The accused man’s sister, Mary Wallace Snr, told the jury he had once told her that he had choked Ms Maguire. However, her garda statement, which was read out in the jury’s absence, went further.

‘Moment of madness’

Ms Wallace said Keena had told her that he had choked Ms Maguire with his hands. “She wasn’t breathing,” she continued. “He thought she was gone… a moment of madness… he thought she was dead.”

She also said that she had spoken to Ms Maguire about that incident. “She said: ‘I was in heaven for a few minutes’. I said: ‘Oh Bridgie, get out of there.’”

The only account of what happened on the night of the killing came from the accused during his garda interviews.

He said it had come to his attention that their son had been absent from school and he went to Ms Maguire’s home to discuss it. Keena said they argued and that Ms Maguire told him he was no good to the children.

He told gardaí that she was always sending and receiving messages on Facebook when they lived together. He complained that she was doing the same that evening, and her phone records showed intimate communiction with a male at that time.

“Next a text message came on the phone. I said: ‘That must be your f***ing partner in Mullingar. You must be going to meet him’,” he told detectives.

He said she had told him it was none of his business.

“I said: ‘Go on and whore yourself in around Mullingar’. With that, she jumped out of the bed and came for me really violently. She was vexed,” he said. “She had her two hands out into my face. I put my two hands out to block her.”

He said that he moved his hands onto her neck.

‘Fighting for her life’

Keena told gardaí he choked Ms Maguire for “a few minutes, I’d say,” before she fell to the ground.

“Her tongue was all blue. She was fighting for her life at that stage. I knew the damage was done,” he said, adding that he had applied “a good bit of pressue” but did not mean to kill her.

He said she had told him that she was dying and he said that he could hear her gurgling.“I knew I was after killing her and that’s when I panicked,” he said.

He said he ran when he realised she was dead and had tried to take his own life twice.

Keena told the local Garda sergeant that Ms Maguire “told me I was a bad father” when he turned up at her house after 24 hours on the run, a comment which the defence said was an act of provocation.

The jury reached a majority verdict of 11 to one after four hours and 55 minutes of deliberation.

Keena will be given a mandatory life sentence on Friday after victim impact statements are heard.

He was remanded in custody.