Murder accused says Tom Nevin was in IRA


The murdered publican Tom Nevin was a member of the IRA, his widow Mrs Catherine Nevin alleged yesterday.

"My husband, my lord, was a member of the IRA," Mrs Nevin said in evidence, after she was called to the witness stand in her own defence on the 22nd day of her trial for murder and three counts of soliciting to murder at the Central Criminal Court.

Mrs Nevin told her counsel that when she and Tom held an opening night at Jack White's Inn in May 1986 among the 500 people attending were Mr Joe Cahill and Mr Cathal Goulding. She had been asked by Mr MacEntee if there were "political people" there. "Oh yes, my lord," she replied, "there was, yes, friends of my husband."

She named one man whom she alleged was "in the IRA". Then she said Mr Joe Cahill was there, and Cathal Goulding. Cathal Goulding stayed afterwards, she said.

Her evidence continues today. Mrs Nevin (49) has denied the murder of her husband Tom Nevin (54) on March 19th, 1996, in their home at Jack White's Inn, Ballinapark, near Brittas Bay in Co Wicklow.

She has also pleaded not guilty to charges that on dates in 1989 she solicited Mr John Jones, that in or about 1990 she solicited Mr Gerry Heapes and that on a date unknown in 1990 at St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin, she solicited Mr William McClean, to murder her husband.

Mrs Nevin told the trial yesterday that she and her husband were both "very happy" in their marriage, and she denied the evidence of Mr John Jones that she went to the Sinn Fein advice centre in Finglas and spoke to him there.

The allegation that Tom Nevin was an IRA member was made as Mrs Nevin told Mr Patrick MacEntee SC that her late husband was very friendly with the late Mr Noel Ellis snr, and allowed him to sell An Phoblacht in Barry House, the pub the Nevins had under lease in 1985 in Finglas.

"My husband had political friends of his in the premises," Mrs Nevin said. "I wasn't there all the time, my lord, I wouldn't know everything that happened in the place." Asked by Mr MacEntee what she meant by "political friends", the accused paused and then told the court: "My husband, my lord, was a member of the IRA. I learned it approximately three years after we were married, my lord."

Asked by counsel how she learned that her husband was in the IRA, she said Tom was coming home late, often three nights a week, at around 6 a.m. "When we sat down and talked about it - I had presumed that perhaps he was seeing someone else - and it was then that he told me that this was part of his life and it would always be part of his life," she said.

She said her intimate life with her husband was fine, there was nothing wrong with it, and for the 20 years of their marriage they were "both very happy".

She told Mr MacEntee that Tom had entered into negotiations to buy the Killinarden Inn in Tallaght at one stage. She said Mr John Jones had told him it was up for sale. Her husband was very happy with figures he was shown for the pub's takings.

"Tom was to take over the ownership of the premises but £100,000 of the purchase price was to come from John Jones," she said. She said there was a meeting attended by herself, her husband, Mr Jones and three other named men at the Green Isle Hotel. Two of the men were from Dublin, she thought both from Tallaght, while the third was from Northern Ireland. Mr Jones was to be a silent partner in the pub, while Tom was to hold the title for the premises and pay the balance of the purchase price.

She alleged that the £100,000 was to be given to Mr Jones by one of the two named Dublin men, who was to "take it down from the North" from the third named man.

She also alleged that at a later meeting with a manager in a Northern Bank branch her husband produced a deposit book which contained this £100,000 in the balance. She presumed the deposit account was in her husband's name. His two houses and her house on the South Circular Road were also to be the collateral for a loan, which was approved by the Northern Bank.

"The deal didn't go through, something happened between John Jones and my husband, the deal just didn't go through. My husband seemed very upset about it," Mrs Nevin said.

She and Tom then looked at a pub in Celbridge before buying Jack White's Inn for around £270,000. As far as she was aware, Mr Jones had nothing to do with that purchase. "My husband, God rest him, had a lot of dealings with Mr Jones, but I don't know what they were about," she said. They were political dealings. Mrs Nevin was then asked about an incident she alleges gave rise to further dealings with Mr John Jones. She said that at the time they leased the Barry House pub, Tom gave possession of a vacant flat to Mr Jones, rent free. She said that she was returning home from Finglas late one night, sometime in wintertime, when she saw all the lights on in the house of flats. It was about two to three o'clock in the morning.

"When I went in, I was confronted by two men who came at me with a sheet of glass," she said. "I went to go into the flat and as I went to go in, two men came for me and they had a piece of glass in their hands, and I put up my hands to protect my face and my two fingers on my left hand were very badly injured."

The injuries were inflicted with the piece of glass by the two men, she said. Mrs Nevin showed the two fingers from the witness-box, and said she could not straighten one of them. After the attack, the men just ran out the back of the premises.

"My hand was bleeding, it was bleeding quite a lot and I just looked into the flat and what I saw disturbed me something terrible," she said. Asked what that was, she said there were "bundles of wires" on the floor of the flat and what appeared to her like the components from the back of a television. "Beauty boards" around the wall of the flat had been pulled away in part, as well as the architrave between the walls and the ceiling.