Jury to resume Monday in trial of man accused of murdering ex-partner
Judge says there are two available verdicts, guilty of murder or guilty of manslaughter
The man had previously strangled Brigid Maguire to the point of dizziness, and she and her two children had left him only two months before her death. Photograph: Facebook
The jury will resume deliberations on Monday in trial of a man, charged with murdering the mother of his children, by strangling her in her new home.
The farmer (55) has pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to her manslaughter at her home on Main Street, Ballynacargy. He had previously strangled her to the point of dizziness, and she and her two children had left him only two months before her death.
The defence has asked for a verdict of manslaughter rather than murder by reason of provocation; Ms Maguire had told him he was a bad father to their son.
The prosecution has said that this case was one of the least appropriate for a defence of provocation, noting testimony that he had previously strangled her and threatened to kill her.
Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy charged the seven men and five women of the jury on Friday morning, telling them that there was no room for sympathy or prejudice. He said the fact the accused was sorry was of no relevance.
He explained that there were two available verdicts: guilty of murder or not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.
The jury had spent two hours and 11 minutes considering its verdict on Friday before being sent home for the weekend. Deliberations will resume on Monday morning.
In his closing speech yesterday, Remy Farrell SC, prosecuting, 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.”
Colm Smyth SC, defending, yesterday 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.
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.”