Husband killed his wife in a `moment of rage'

A social welfare manager killed his wife in "white anger and passion" and would have to live with the consequences for the rest…

A social welfare manager killed his wife in "white anger and passion" and would have to live with the consequences for the rest of his life, his defence barrister has told a murder trial.

Quoting Oscar Wilde, Ms Maureen Clark SC said Patrick Hennessy had "killed the thing he loved" but had done so in a moment of uncontrollable anger.

Ms Clark was summing up the defence case on the sixth day of the trial. Hennessy (37), Callan, Co Kilkenny, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter but denies murdering his wife, Marie, on May 12th, 1999. The court heard that Hennessy beat his wife to death after an argument in which he admitted to her that he had been suspended from his job.

Ms Clark told the jury the case before them was "particularly harrowing and tragic" as it involved the death of a young wife, nurse and mother. Hennessy was a loving father and husband who found himself indicted for murder after nine years of marriage.


Ms Clark rejected a suggestion by Mr George Birmingham SC, prosecuting, that Hennessy was "a weak, vein, self-centred and selfish man". He was guilty of embezzlement in his job, and had been living beyond his means, but he was also a well-respected man.

On the Friday before the killing, he was suspended from his job as manager of the Callan social welfare office following an investigation by the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs. He felt cornered and "in a state" but did not want to tell his wife because he knew if would hurt her.

Hennessy was frightened, ashamed and wanted to avoid his wife's "understandable wrath".

He lived in a community of decent, law-abiding people and was aware that news of the embezzlement would spread "like wildfire". Ms Clark invited the jury to imagine Hennessy's state of mind when he told his wife the news on the following Monday morning. He and Marie began to argue and she slapped him. He picked up a car jack and beat her with it, something he would never have done in normal circumstances.

Ms Clark added that Hennessy had been provoked, not by the actions of his wife but the surrounding circumstances in his life. He intended to attack his wife, she said, but only during a moment of blind rage in which he lost control of his mind.

In his summing-up, Mr Birmingham said Mr Hennessy had led "a life of lies" before he battered his wife to death. It seemed that one could not believe anything Hennessy had to say and you could not trust him even if he told you the time of day, he said.

Hennessy had attacked his wife with a car jack with the intention of causing serious injury or death, and was therefore guilty of murder. He had not been provoked to such an extent that it lead to a "complete, sudden and total loss of self control", and the jury should return a guilty verdict. Mr Birmingham said Mr Hennessy may have been angry at the time, but most murderers were angry when they killed their victim.