herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Teen tells court of bullying and threats from dad to his mother

Jade Maguire found the strangled body of her mother Brigid Maguire on the floor of her home in Ballynacargy
Jade Maguire found the strangled body of her mother Brigid Maguire on the floor of her home in Ballynacargy

A teenage boy whose mother was strangled by his father broke down in court as he described their home life before the killing, saying: "I hated him for what he was doing to her."

The 14-year-old said his father, Danny Keena, had been a "bully" who would "pick on" his mother Brigid Maguire.

On one occasion he had spilled "a drum of milk over her head for no reason".

At one point, cross-examination had to be halted when the boy became upset and members of his family sobbed in court as he said: "I can't do this."

He was giving evidence by video link to the Central Criminal Court in the trial of his father.

Mr Keena (55), from Empor, Ballynacargy, Co Westmeath, denies the murder of his estranged partner Ms Maguire (43) at Main Street, Ballynacargy on November 14, 2015.

Their daughter Jade found her strangled on the floor that night. The prosecution has not accepted Mr Keena's manslaughter plea.

In closing speeches, the defence said it was a "clear case of provocation" after Ms Maguire told the accused he was "no good as a father".

"To say of Danny Keena in the past he was an abuser and because of that he is not entitled to the defence of provocation is to say the least utter nonsense," Mr Smyth said.

"If there was ever a case where provocation should apply, I say to you it's this case."

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy was due to conclude his charge to the jury today.

Brigid Maguire
Brigid Maguire

Remy Farrell SC, prosecuting, asked the 14-year-old to describe family life before they left his father.

"It was really bad because he would never leave my mother alone and he'd always pick on her," the boy said.

"He would threaten her and say everything is your fault and all this. He would say 'I'll kill you' and the whole lot.

"He came in with the milk and spilled it all over her hair and she hadn't done anything to him," he said of another incident.

"I told her that I hated him for what he was doing to her."

He told the court about another occasion when he said the accused had a hammer and was threatening his mother.

His father told the children to go away and then went and got a poker, he said.

"If we went away he would have done something really bad to my mother."

Colm Smyth SC, defending, asked him if his father had taken him to football matches and if he had enjoyed them and got on well with him.

"Yes, up until he started getting more aggressive with my mother," he replied.

Closing

In his closing speech to the jury, prosecutor Mr Farrell said: "This is one of the clearest cases of murder you might hope for."

Earlier, John Hayden BL, prosecuting, read out the memos of the accused's fourth and fifth interviews with gardai.

"I didn't mean to kill her, I was completely gone," Mr Keena had said.

"I don't know what got into me. She is too good a person. After 25 years I would never kill her and leave the children without a mother," he told gardai.

Asked if he had ever tried to choke her, he said he "did once", one night a few months earlier, after an argument about a washing machine.

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