Kearney 'did not believe his wife would kill herself'

A man accused of strangling his wife told gardaí he did not believe his wife would kill herself and leave her son, a jury at the Central Criminal Court has heard.

A man accused of strangling his wife told gardaí he did not believe his wife would kill herself and leave her son, a jury at the Central Criminal Court has heard.

Brian Kearney (aged 50), with an address at Carnroe, Knocknashee, Goatstown, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to murdering his wife Siobhan Kearney, 38, on February 28, 2006 - his 49th birthday.

Detective Sergeant Michael Gibbons told Mr Denis Vaughan Buckley SC, prosecuting, that when Mr Kearney was arrested on March 3rd 2006 he said he could not accept the possibility that his wife had killed herself.

"I find it hard to believe or impossible under the circumstances." When asked if he killed his wife, Mr Kearney replied: "I didn't do it. I didn't fight with her. We didn't have rows."

In an earlier voluntary witness statement made on March 1st 2006 Det Sgt Gibbons said Mr Kearney told him "I can't understand it. I am baffled. She loved (her son, who cannot be named for legal reasons). She wouldn't leave him for a moment. She would never leave him."

Det. Sgt Gibbons said Mr Kearney said he was aware that Siobhan was applying for a legal separation. He said they were at "the very early stages" of a divorce but initially denied receiving letters from Siobhan's solicitors.

Mr Kearney did agree that he had received a solicitor's letter expressing Siobhan's reluctance to rent the next door property.

Asked why she would need to arrange a legal letter to discuss the house when she had already made it clear to him that she didn't want to rent the house.

"We hadn't decided what we were going to do with it. The building wasn't completed." But he agreed that even so he had arranged to have the house advertised for rent.

He acknowledged that Siobhan had intended to move into the house herself.

"Yes it was part of the settlement we had discussed, her moving in there. I was reasonably happy with it other than it being claustrophobic us living next door to each other."

He explained that he had made enquiries about renting the house in case the relationship had got back on track.

During this earlier statement Mr Kearney said he had first met his wife 17 years previously when they both worked for Yamaguchi Electric Ltd. in Mulhuddart.

Siobhan was working as a chef in the kitchen. "She was 21, I was 31. I thought she was older. She looked so in control of the place."

Mr Kearney told gardai he was living in Balinteer with his then three and a half year old daughter from a previous relationship. Siobhan had a flat on the Burlington Road which she shared with three or four flatmates.

After going out for a few years, Siobhan moved in to the house in Balinteer and they got engaged.

Det Sgt Gibbons said Mr Kearney said that the relationship broke down and he and Siobhan separated for four or five years. He told gardai he didn't go out with anyone else and kept in touch with Siobhan, meeting up from time to time.

Eventually they got back together. Siobhan got pregnant but miscarried. They got married again in June 2002. After they got back from a "wonderful" honeymoon in Granada they talked about getting a boat.

On a visit to Palma in Majorca to look at boats they decided to view some houses. They bought their hotel for €2.2m in both their names. Mr Kearney told gardaí that the house Siobhan sold the house she then owned in Shankhill in Dublin and invested the money in the hotel.

"During the holiday season she lives there March to October. [Their son] lives there with her. I go back and forth. It's going well."

Mr Kearney said when he was in Majorca, their son would sleep in a bed with him and Siobhan. He said that when they returned to Ireland they tried to make the child sleep in his own room but he wouldn't so "from a sexual point of view we hadn't been together since mid December."

Det. Sgt Gibbons said Mr Kearney had told them that he and Siobhan had been on holiday as a family for Christmas 2005 to Italy and Austria.

Shortly after they got home Mr Kearney said he received the first solicitor's letter. "She sent me a solicitor's letter looking for a divorce. There was never a mention of this before. I was in shock."

Mr Kearney told gardaí he asked Siobhan to go for marriage counselling but she refused.

On the day before her death Siobhan had been out with their son until about 9 or 9.30. When she got home she asked Mr Kearney to put the child to bed while she went upstairs to the attic room to answer emails to do with the business.

Before she went upstairs Mr Kearney said they spoke for a while in the hall outside her bedroom and he briefly went in to go after the child who was playing with a ball.

He told gardai he fell asleep reading him a bedtime story and slept through the night, only waking once to take the child to the toilet. He didn't notice anything wrong on this occasion.

Det. Sgt Gibbons said Mr Kearney said the following morning his son woke him at 7 a.m. He rose and got ready for work and gave the child his breakfast.

As he was leaving at around 8.30a.m he tried the door to Siobhan's room and found it locked. He said it was unusual for it to be locked. He shouted "I'm off" and left the house.

"I just took a last look in at [his son] and gave him a kiss then jumped into the van and went up the road."

Mr Kearney said he continued with his days work until he received a phone call from Siobhan's mother.

"She said, there's been a terrible accident. Siobhan has had a terrible accident."

He told gardaí he went back to the house as soon as he could. He went upstairs to talk to gardaí and saw Siobhan lying on the floor of the bedroom.

"It had me in shock. Her beautiful face and patches on her body. I had no clear indication at that stage what had happened."

The trial continues tomorrow before Mr Justice White and the jury of eight women and four men.

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