The niece of a man charged with murdering the mother of his two children has said he had previously threatened to ‘run the car into her’ if he met the deceased on the road.
Mary Wallace Jnr was giving evidence to the Central Criminal Court this (Wednesday) morning, on the second day of her uncle’s murder trial.
Danny Keena of Empor, Ballynacargy, Co Westmeath is charged with the murder of 43-year-old Brigid Maguire by strangling her.
The 54-year-old farmer has pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to her manslaughter at Main Street, Ballynacargy on November 14, 2015.
Ms Wallace told Remy Farrell SC, prosecuting, that she’d had a good relationship over the years with her uncle, Danny Keena.
She then described a phone call with him six or seven weeks before Ms Maguire was found dead.
“I rang him on his mobile and asked him what was going on at home in the house in Empor in relation to the arguments with Bridgie and the kids listening in,” she recalled. “I said: ‘It’s not right what’s going on. The kids are terrified’.”
Ms Wallace said that her uncle had replied that his ‘head was done in’.
“He was sick of it all and that if he met her on the road he was going to run the car into her and then kill himself, hang himself,” she testified. “I said: ‘What about the children?’ He said they’d be better off without either of them.”
She was asked if she had believed him.
“I never believed he’d hang himself anyway,” she replied.
Under cross examination by Colm Smyth SC, defending, she agreed that her partner was Brigid Maguire’s brother.
“Your uncle disputes that he, in any way, threatened to kill Brigid Maguire by driving into her on the road,” he said.
Ms Wallace said she wouldn’t have said it if that was the case.
She said she had told the deceased about the call, but not the gardai.
“I didn’t know whether to believe him or not,” she said.
She agreed that she had said in her statement, that he was ‘rambling about Brigid having changed’.
“I said: ‘Sure, you’ve made her change. She’s standing up for herself’,” said the witness. “She was trying to make decisions about leaving the house. She wanted to leave the house, she felt, for the kids’ sake,”
The court also heard the details of Ms Maguire’s post-mortem exam this morning.
Deputy State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan said she had observed ‘extensive traumatic injury to the neck’.
She said that the force used was ‘of sufficient degree’ to cause extensive bleeding in the neck muscles and fracture of the hyoid bone.
She also said that the force had been ‘maintained for a length of time’ to cause signs of asphyxia, particularly petechial hemorrhages, and death from hypoxia.
“In my opinion, death has occurred due to excessive pressure applied externally to the neck,” she concluded.
The trial continues this afternoon before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of seven men and five women.
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