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FEBUARY 18, 2008
The Mother and Father of Murder Victim Siobhan Kearney Give Evidence At The Trial of Her Husband Brian
The mother and father of Siobhan Kearney have given evidence at the trial of her husband, Brian, who is accused of her murder at their home in south Dublin two years ago.
Brian Kearney, 50, denies murdering his wife at Knocknashee in Goatstown in February 2006.
This afternoon her mother Deirdre McLaughlin told the Central Criminal Court that in 1999 Siobhan had been treated at the St John of God medical facility.
She said that she had suffered a breakdown and was around five days off work at the time.
Deirdire McLaughlin said that she had no doubt the breakdown occurred because she was overworked.
Mrs McLaughlin spoke about the morning her daughter, Niamh, telephoned her from Siobhan's home. She telephoned Brian Kearney and told him that something terrible had happened. He said very little during the call and arrived at the house nearly an hour later.
When he arrived at the house he told Siobhan's mother, 'we will be together forever'. The court also heard that Siobhan and Brian Kearney were experiencing marriage difficulties and that she intended leaving him.
Later Siobhan's father Eoin McLaughlin said that to his mind Brian Kearney did not show much emotion when he arrived at the house on the morning Siobhan's body was discovered; he put his head in his hands.
Niamh McLaughlin, who is Siobhan's younger sister, gave evidence earlier today.
She told how she arrived at her sister's home on the morning of 28 February 2006 to drop her car off before going to work.
She let herself in as usual and found her three-year-old nephew walking around the house alone.
She discovered the bedroom door locked and immediately called her parents at their home in Dalkey.
The court heard how Niamh heard her father kick in the bedroom door before coming down the stairs in hysterics shouting that Siobhan was dead.
She told Prosecution Counsel Denis Vaughan Buckley that when staying at the couple's hotel, 'Hotel Salvia' in Spain, she was aware there were marital difficulties.
The Kearneys bought the hotel in 2002/2003 and had developed it into a boutique-style hotel.
Circumstantial evidence 'central to case'
The Central Criminal Court was told this morning that the body of Siobhan Kearney was found in her locked bedroom by her father at 10.20am on 28 February 2006.
A vacuum cleaner flex was wrapped around her upper body and she had ligature marks around her neck.
A jury of eight women and four men was sworn in this morning for the trial, which is expected to last around four weeks.
The trial of Brian Kearney will be based substantially on circumstantial evidence, according to Prosecution Counsel Denis Vaughan Buckley.
Prosecution counsel said there would be significant evidence to dispute the claim that Siobhan Kearney could have committed suicide.
He said it was the prosecution's case that the door was locked from the outside and the key put back under it into the room.
The prosecution will argue that there was a contrived hanging over the door to the en-suite bathroom using the flex of the Dyson vacuum cleaner.
The court was told that the couple were having marriage difficulties and Siobhan had made an appointment with the local citizen's advice centre for legal advice.
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FEBUARY 19, 2008
Mrs. Kearney Was Seeking Marital Advice Before Her Death
A woman, whose husband is on trial for her murder, was seeking advice on marital separation the day before her death, the Central Criminal Court heard today.
Brian Kearney (aged 50) with an address at Carnroe, Knocknashee, Goatstown, Dublin has pleaded not guilty to murdering his wife, Siobhan Kearney (aged 38) on February 28, 2006 – his 49th birthday.
Ms Kearney was found strangled in her bedroom that morning.
Ms Philomena Daly, who was working at the Citizen’s Advice Centre, Dundrum Town Centre, Sandyford Rd in 2006, told the court that on February 27, a woman called, seeking an appointment for advice on a marital separation.
She said that the woman gave her name as Siobhan Kearney.
Ms Daly told the court that she gave the deceased woman an appointment for March 9 that year but that she asked for an earlier date. She said that she told Siobhan that no earlier dates were available.
Earlier, a sister of Siobhan Kearney told the court that she first met Brian Kearney at the afters of her wedding in 1989.
Aisling McLaughlin told prosecuting counsel Mr Denis Vaughan Buckley SC that Siobhan and Brian Kearney were engaged in 1995 but split up the same year, breaking off the engagement. Siobhan subsequently moved to Clontarf in Dublin, where she established a catering business before moving to Blackrock.
Ms McLaughlin said that her sister and Mr Kearney reunited and then married in January 2002 and that a son was born six months later. The married couple bought a hotel in Spain, the Hotel Salvia, which they opened in March 2003. Siobhan, a qualified chef, was involved in both administration and kitchen duties, she said.
Ms McLaughlin told Mr Vaughan Buckley that on the morning Siobhan’s body was found, she drove another sister, Brighid McLaughlin, to the house in Goatstown. She said they arrived at approximately 10.45am and that half an hour later, Mr Kearney arrived.
“I told him to get out, but my mother told me to stop,” Ms McLaughlin told the jury.
She said that she than heard Mr Kearney say to Brighid McLaughlin “how terrible it was, especially after Michael’s death”.
The court heard on Monday that Brighid McLaughlin’s husband, Michael, died on July 4, 2003.
Ms McLaughlin continued: “He [Mr Kearney] was sitting down after that and proceeded to breathe heavily.”
She told the jury that Mr Kearney then “stopped his heavy breathing and gave clear instructions to the family about toys [his son] would need.
“When he was finished giving his instructions, he resumed breathing very heavily,” she said.
The son had earlier been taken to Mr Kearney’s parents’ house.
Ms McLaughlin told Mr Patrick Gageby SC, defending, that her sister voluntarily admitted herself to St John of God hospital in December1999 for two weeks because she was “worn out from working so hard”. She had not been living with Mr Kearney for a number of years at this time, she said.
In response, Mr Gageby said to Ms McLaughlin that it was “quite incorrect” for anyone to suggest to the jury that Siobhan was in St John of Gods because of the “stress of living with Brian Kearney”.
Ms McLaughlin said that she could not say.
Anne Clohessy, a pharmacist, told the jury that she had known Siobhan Kearney for eight years and that they would meet two or three times a week.
Ms Clohessy told Mr Vaughan Buckley that she met Siobhan the day before she died.
She said she met Siobhan and her son at approximately 5pm at the top of Grafton St. They went for a cup of coffee and, afterward, walked to Ms Clohessy’s apartment on Wolfe Tone St, where they had dinner. They were joined by Ms Clohessy’s partner, Julian Lawlor.
She said that Siobhan was in “her usual positive form” and that they “chatted about [her son], which school he was to be enrolled in”.
Mr Vaughan Buckley asked Ms Clohessy if Siobhan was likely to have taken her own life and she answered: “I knew Siobhan very well, she wouldn’t do it.”
Ms Clohessy said that she was aware that her friend was having marriage difficulties.
She said they ate the meal at approximately 6.30pm and that afterward she drove Siobhan and her son back to their house in Goatstown.
The court also heard evidence from Emer Brennan, manager and receptionist of a hair salon close to the Kearney home in Goatstown, who told Mr Vaughan Buckley that Siobhan phoned on Monday February 27 and made an appointment for a wash and blow-dry for the following day.
Jacinta Kane, secretary of Our Lady’s Grove Primary School, Goatstown, told Mr Dominic McGinn BL, prosecuting, that Siobhan enquired on February 13, 2006, about enrolling her son in the school for the following September.
Ms Kane said that Siobhan completed the application form and that the school subsequently sent out a letter offering her son a place in the school.
The court also heard from a man who was working at Kelleher’s Electrical, Sandyford Industrial Estate, in February 2006.
Mr Colm Ward told the court that Mr Kearney, an electrical contractor, would call every morning to Kelleher’s between 8.30 and 9am where he would meet his employees before delegating work to them.
He said that Mr Kearney arrived between 7.50 and 8am on the morning of his wife’s death and agreed with Mr Dominic McGinn BL that this was “somewhat earlier” than usual.
The trial in front of Mr Justice Barry White and the jury continues tomorrow.
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FEBUARY 22, 2008
Mechanical Engineer Gives Testimony About The Vacume Cleaner Hose Found Around Victim's Neck
A mechanical engineer has told the trial of Brian Kearney that the tests carried out on part of the flex of the vacuum cleaner found wrapped around Siobhan Kearney's body showed that it simply could not have supported her weight.
The jury has been shown video footage of the tests carried out which showed that, when the dead woman's weight was applied, it broke after five seconds.
Fifty-year-old Brian Kearney denies murdering his 38-year-old wife at the family home in Goatstown in February 2006.
Dr Neil Murphy, a lecturer in mechanical engineering at UCD, explained that he carried out three tests applying three different weights to the purple cable taken from the Dyson vacuum cleaner found coiled around the dead woman's body.
The first weight applied was 54 kilos, Siobhan Kearney's weight, and the video footage showed that, after five seconds, the cable broke.
The second weight applied was 42 kilos and the cable lasted around 10 minutes.
The third weight applied was 47 kilos and the cable broke after seven seconds.
When asked by the prosecution if this cable had been tied in a noose around the dead woman's neck, how long she would have been suspended for, Dr Murphy answered only five or seven seconds.
Forensic scientist Michael Dawson has told the court that, on examining the cable, he concluded the break in it was instantaneous and there was no whitening or stretching of the flex.
The State Pathologist, Marie Cassidy, is in court and expected to give evidence this afternoon.
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FEBRUARY 28, 2008
Siobhan Kearney's Diary Found After Her Death
Siobhan Kearney's diary was found hidden behind the tank in the hot press by gardaí who searched the house after Ms Kearney's death, the Central Criminal Court heard today.
The court in the trial of Brian Kearney was also told that her passport was discovered hidden in a sheet in the hot press.
The writing in the large A4 size diary was identified by Ann Marie Sparks as being that of her sister Siobhan.
The court heard that entries in the diary began on 27 January 2006 and the last entry was on 27 February 2006, the day before Ms Kearney's body was found in her bedroom.
Earlier, the solicitor consulted by Siobhan Kearney in January 2006 about a legal separation told the court that he thought that he had advised her to keep a diary.
Gardaí also found a €500 note wrapped in wrapping paper in the bottom drawer of the dressing table in Ms Kearney's bedroom.
Evidence about Brian Kearney's financial affairs was also revealed to the court.
Toni Massey, an accountant who works for the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, said that Brian Kearney's assets were worth €4.6m in February 2006, taking into account all borrowings and capital gain tax owed.
Ms Massey said that Mr Kearney would have had a net income of almost €120,000, or almost €10,000 per month, in 2004.
However, borrowings on the hotel in Spain and the house the Kearneys were building next door came to more than €15,000 a month.
There was a loan of around €850,000 against the family home.
Ms Massey said if the couple had separated, Mr Kearney would have needed to sell the family home or the new house built next door to relieve the financial pressure caused by this loan.
The court also heard from a ballistics expert from the Garda Technical Bureau. Detective Garda Thomas Carey gave evidence that the vacuum cleaner flex found around Siobhan Kearney's body had broken and had not been cut, according to tests he had carried out.
The prosecution in the trial of Brian Kearney has concluded its case.
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MAY 3, 2008
Brian Kearney Found Guilty Of His Wife’s Murder
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.
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That says it all!!!“Siobhan needs peace now, to sleep peacefully, knowing that everything that can be done, has been done.”
What a beautiful woman she was. So sad.
Nite, Thank You for posting this!!!
Prayers for our little HaLeigh Cummings, wherever she may be!!
Nine-tenths of wisdom is appreciation. Go find somebody’s hand and squeeze it, while there’s time.
-- Dale Dauten--
Thank you RAINE for all you ARE!! I will ALWAYS hold you in my Heart!!
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