A Westmeath man has been handed a life sentence for murdering the mother of his children, who have said they will never forgive him.
Jade Maguire, who found her mother’s body in a sight that will "haunt me forever", has testified that Danny Keena was not thinking of them when he murdered their "beautiful mother", Brigid Maguire.
She advised other domestic abuse victims to seek help so that they would not end up like their mother.
Keena of Empor, Ballynacargy strangled his partner of 25 years in her new home on November 14, 2015, two months after the 43-year-old and their two teenaged children had left him.
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 to their then 12-year-old son. However a jury convicted him of murder on Monday following his Central Criminal Court trial.
Jade Maguire entered the witness box during his sentencing hearing this morning to deliver a victim impact statement on behalf of her victim’s family.
“On the 14th of November 2015, our lives changed forever,” she said. “Our dear, beloved mother was cruelly taken from us.”
She said their mother’s murder had left "a huge void" in the family’s lives.
“Things will never be the same for us or the small community of Ballynacargy,” she explained.
She described her mother as a "full of life" and a "kind, caring, religious person, who put the needs of others before herself". She had loved her work in the hospital, helping both patients and visitors.
She had loved her children so much, she added.
“Our Mammy had the most beautiful smile,” she recalled, noting that they would now see it only in photographs.
She said that they could not sleep and that, when they did, they woke with scary dreams.
“I will never forget seeing my beautiful mother lying on the floor,” she said. “It will haunt me forever.”
She said they were full of anger, hurt and grief, which time would never heal.
“We will never forgive Danny Keena for what he has done,” she said. “He never thought of (us) when he murdered our beautiful mother.”
She said that, even with the guilty verdict, there was no joy.
“It will never bring our beautiful mother back,” she concluded.
Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy then imposed the mandatory life sentence on her mother’s murderer, as prescribed by law. He backdated it to 17th November 2015, when he went into custody.
Keena showed no emotion as he was led away by prison officers.
Jade Maguire then spoke briefly outside the courthouse, saying the family was relieved to get justice for her mother.
“Sadly, it won’t bring Mammy back,” she noted.
“I would like to advise anyone else, who is suffering from domestic abuse, not to be afraid to seek help as soon as possible so you won’t end up like my mother,” she warned.
She thanked Mullingar Gardaí for their support and hard work, and thanked the jury for "seeking the truth".