Woman in ‘love triangle’ case tells of fatal row in Tallaght apartment
Deceased burst into room where she was arguing with accused, court told
Claire McGrath, the former partner of murder accused Keith Connorton, arrives at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin on Tuesday. Photograph: Collins Courts
The woman in a “love triangle” that allegedly resulted in a man being stabbed to death has told a murder trial: “It is my fault. If I had never brought him to my house he would be still alive. I’m so sorry.”
Claire McGrath also told the trial that the deceased “burst in” to the room where she was arguing with the accused and said: “She’s mine now”, before the fatal row broke out.
Ms McGrath was giving evidence in the Central Criminal Court trial of 40-year-old Keith Connorton, of Deerpark Avenue, Tallaght, who has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Graham McKeever (32) at the accused man’s home on February 18, 2017.
The witness told prosecution counsel Brendan Grehan SC that she was still in a relationship with the accused man. They moved into the apartment at Deerpark Avenue in November 2014, having previously spent time together in homeless accommodation. They have one son together.
By February 2017, they were having problems and often argued, particularly over Mr Connorton’s drug use, she said.
They had a “rocky patch” for about a year and while Mr Connorton still lived at the apartment they did not share a bed.
She said: “We fought all the time but we both love each other and wanted to keep trying.”
She knew the deceased since childhood, she said. He was two years ahead of her in school and they met again when she started volunteering to work with the homeless. “We made a connection,” she said, and “one thing led to another”.
They had been seeing each other romantically behind Mr Connorton’s back for about six weeks before Mr McKeever’s death. On the afternoon of February 17th, she had an argument with Mr Connorton. He was “intoxicated” on tablets, she said, and she told him to come back when he was sober. She then invited Mr McKeever to spend the night with her “in a romantic way”.
Mr McKeever arrived some time before 7pm. They had a drink, watched television, played with her son. The child went to bed at about 9pm and she and Mr McKeever did the “usual romantic things”.
They started to kiss and undress and were “planning to have sex” when Ms McGrath heard a noise from the kitchen. She went to the kitchen wearing a dressing gown, underwear and a bra. She found Mr Connorton cutting a piece of cannabis with a kitchen knife.
He started to cry, she said, and they started to argue while he still had the knife in his hand. She let out a noise, like “aah or ouch” and that was when Mr McKeever “burst in” and said: “She’s mine now.”
Mr McKeever “charged into him like a bull”, the witness said. She said the deceased knocked Mr Connorton across the room. “He beat the crap out of Keith,” she said, adding that it was like Mr Connorton was letting Mr McKeever hit him in the face and although he had the knife he wasn’t using it.
At the time she did not think that Mr McKeever had a knife but she said a knife photographed by gardaí on the floor of the apartment did not belong to her and must have been brought there by the deceased.
He must, she said, have brought it with him from the bedroom.
She took the kitchen knife from Mr Connorton after Mr McKeever had been stabbed.
The trial continues.