A Westmeath man faces a life sentence, after being convicted of murdering the mother of his children by ‘strangling the life out of her’ two months after she had left him.
Danny Keena of Empor, Ballynacargy was on trial at the Central Criminal Court, charged with the murder of 43-year-old Brigid Maguire on November 14, 2015; she and their two children had left him that September.
The 55-year-old farmer had pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to her manslaughter at her new home on Main Street, Ballynacargy. He claimed she had provoked him by telling him he was a bad father.
The court heard that he had previously strangled her to the point where she had stopped breathing. However, the jury did not hear this evidence, which was contained in the statement of a witness read out during legal argument. Instead, the jury heard his own admission that he had previously ‘choked’ her to the point of dizziness.
The trial heard that the accused and deceased had been a couple for 25 years and had two children. However, the relationship had become abusive, with both children testifying to seeing their father being violent with her.
Jade Maguire, who had found her mother’s body, recalled an occasion when she and her younger brother were forced to defend their mother from their poker-wielding father.
Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy had explained that there were two available verdicts: guilty of murder or not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.
The jury reached its majority verdict of 11 to one after four hours and 55 minutes spent deliberating.
He will be given the mandatory life sentence on Friday after victim impact statements are given. He was remanded in custody until then.