Brian Kearney tonight began a life sentence for the murder of his wife Siobhan with her family saying in an emotional statement he ceased to be human when he killed her.
Kearney, aged 51, was found guilty of his 38-year-old wife’s murder by a majority verdict 11 to 1 after five hours and 24 minutes of deliberation in the Central Criminal Court at Dublin.
Siobhan’s family members cried and held hands saying “please god” when they were told the jury had reached a verdict but before the eight women and four men of the jury re-entered a packed courtroom three Mr Justice Barry White reminded those jostling for space it was a tense moment for everyone and outbursts emotional or triumphant should be suppressed.
So the verdict was read in a thick silence interrupted by gasps and gulps.
Kearney murdered his wife and mother of their three-year-old son at the family’s home at Carnroe, Knocknashee, Goatstown, Dublin, on February 28, 2006 – Kearney’s 49th birthday.
He strangled her in her room then used a Dyson Vacuum cleaner flex as a ligature before trying to hoist her over the en-suit door in her bedroom in an attempt to make it look like a suicide.
The McLaughlin family hugged and cried once the jury left - Kearney’s daughter Aoife clutching her father who remained straight faced throughout the entire proceeding.
After sentencing Kearney to life in prison Mr Justice White refused a request by the McLaughlin family to read a victim impact statement in court saying the executive had provided for victim impact statements in some cases but murder was not one of them.
He said it did not seem proper the court interfere with an order of the executive.
The McLaughlin family waited until the prison van carrying Kearney left The Four Courts before they walked hand-in-hand to meet the media.
Aisling McLaughlin said the family agreed with Pavill Kalite’s sister, who was one of the Polish men stabbed to death in Drimnagh that “people who do these things cease to be human.”
“The faith and the trust that we have had in our criminal justice system has not been displaced and we have not been let down. Today Siobhan has got justice, we have got justice and Siobhan’s murderer has got justice,” she said.
“Since that day, Tuesday February 28 2006 our lives have been utterly destroyed by this brutal and pointless act of savagery from which they cannot and never will be the same. As a very close family we are haunted by the fact we were not able to help Siobhan that morning that she was alone in the last and worst moments of her life unaware that the place she felt safest in was in fact the most treacherous.”
We are so blessed to have known and to have someone as special as Sheanie in our lives but we miss her every hour of every day and the unbearable longing to hold her to see her and to protect her never leaves you even though you know it’s too late.”
“Siobhan needs peace now, to sleep peacefully, knowing that everything that can be done, has been done.”
During the 13-day trial the court heard Siobhan was filing for a divorce and had sought solicitors advice.
While Kearney was asset rich with property and business interests worth 5.1 million before tax, he was cash poor with €15,300 due each month in mortgage repayments on the family home which had been re-mortgaged to build a new home next door to the family home and pay for a hotel, Hotel Salvia, the couple had bought in Spain.
With net earnings of €118,586 Kearney had received letters from the bank telling him he needed to reduce his borrowing.
Set against this the prosecution led by Denis Vaughan Buckley SC said a separation and Siobhan’s plans to move into the new home they had built did not fit Kearney’s financial plans.
“The separation would not suit him financially in fact it would increase the pressure on him.”
So he killed her.
In closing the prosecution case Dominic McGinn BL said Kearney had gone into his wife’s bedroom that morning and manually strangled his wife. Then at some stage he used use the hoover flex as a ligature around her neck.
Kearny knew Siobhan’s sister Niamh would be arriving to park her car at their home as she did every morning and he could not be found with the body so he left, locking Siobhan’s bedroom door, slipping the key under it and leaving their three-year-old son in the house.
Niamh arrived and could not rouse her sister so called her father Owen who broke into the bedroom and found his daughter dead on the floor the purple vacuum cleaner flex around her body.
The defence led by Mr Patrick Gageby SC maintained Siobhan committed suicide and the couple’s separation was amicable.
Mr Gageby asked for leave to appeal the conviction which was refused by Mr Justice White who said Kearney could remain on legal aid should his refusal be overturned.