A Westmeath man has gone on trial, charged with murdering the mother of his children by strangling her in her home two years ago.
A Westmeath woman, whose father strangled her mother, has told his murder trial that he had previously threatened to kill the deceased while waving a hammer and then a poker at her.
Jade Maguire, who found her mother dead two years ago, was giving evidence to the Central Criminal Court this afternoon (Tuesday, October 3).
Danny Keena of Empor, Ballynacargy, Co Westmeath is charged with the murder of 41-year-old Brigid Maguire at Main Street, Ballynacargy on November 14, 2015.
The 54-year-old has pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to her manslaughter.
Ms Maguire told Remy Farrell SC, prosecuting, that she and her brother had lived with their parents in Empor but that they had left the accused a few weeks before her mother’s death.
“He was very violent towards my mother, very abusive, literally the whole time,” she testified.
She was asked if there were any particular incidents, and she said there was one involving a hammer and poker.
“He tried to choke my mother as well,” she added.
She explained that the incident with the hammer and poker had occurred not long before they had left. She had gone to her mother’s room, after hearing her father shouting at the deceased.
“He took out the hammer,” she said. “I was protecting Mammy so he couldn’t get her. He was waving the hammer into our faces, shouting and screaming.”
She was asked what he was shouting.
“He was going to kill her,” she replied. “She was very afraid and she had marks on her neck.”
She said that her father had put down the hammer but was still shouting.
“Me and my brother tried to calm him down and protect Mammy,” she said.
“He left the room and came back with a poker. He waved the poker trying to get Mammy,” she continued. “That night we tried to leave and were outside but he tried to stop us with a baseball bat.”
She said they eventually moved to a house in the nearby village of Ballynacargy, and recalled returning to that new home after visiting her cousin on the night her mother died.
“The door was open. I walked in. I was shouting: ‘Mammy’. I got no response,” she recalled. “I was a bit up the stairs and I saw her lying on the floor.”
She went over to her mother and tried to call her
“She was gone. She was dead,” she said.
She was cross examined by Colm Smyth SC, defending.
“Your father wants you to understand he’s very sorry for the killing,” he told her.
“Well that’s a bit too late,” she replied.
Mr Smyth also told her that his client disputed ever threatening her, her mother or brother with a hammer or poker.
The accused man’s brother, Brendan Keena, testified that he and another brother accompanied a garda to a relative’s house the following night, after being told that the accused had turned up there.
“There were marks on his arms, blood, scrapes and scratches,” he told Mr Farrell. “I just said to him: ‘Jesus, I didn’t think I’d find you alive’. He said he did think about it (suicide). He said couldn’t do it because of the kids.”
Under cross examination by Mr Smyth, he agreed that he heard the accused tell the garda: “She told me I was a bad father.”
Mr Farrell earlier told the jury that the cause of Ms Maguire’s death was strangulation.
The barrister said that suspicion had immediately fallen on the accused for a number of reasons, including the fact that he was nowhere to be seen.
“He had effectively gone on the run and had slept rough,” he said, explaining that he had turned up at a neighbour’s house the following day and admitted the killing.
“What you’re going to have to decide is: Did he intend to do so?” explained the barrister. “In this case, you’re going to have to consider what was the natural and probable consequence of strangulation.”
Mr Farrell also explained that a manslaughter conviction could arise out of a defence of provocation, where the deceased had said or done something to make the accused lose total self control.
“So, an exceptional situation,” he suggested, explaining that there had to be no time for passions to cool.
“That may be something you’ll have to consider here,” he continued. “Strangulation is not something that occurs in the blink of an eye.”
He said there’d be evidence in the case that Brigid Maguire fought for her life.
The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of seven men and five women and is expected to last five days.
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