Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Brother and son ordered to stay away from murder-book author

Torment and heartbreak continue to haunt the family of a man who was murdered and buried at the bottom of his garden.

Veronica McGrath was 18 when her father, Brian (Bernard) McGrath, was killed by her mother Vera and her husband Colin Pinder at Coole, Co Westmeath, in 1987.

The pair were jailed last year -- for murder and manslaughter respectively.

Now 41, Veronica, who saw the beheaded corpse of her father burn on a bonfire, sat quietly at Mullingar District Court yesterday as her brother Andrew (35) and son Bernard (21) pleaded guilty to breaching protection orders she had taken against them.

Following the direction of Judge Patrick Clyne, they must stay sober in public and, while on 12 months' probation, must "stay away from Veronica at all times and off the premises and environs" of her house at Lower Coole.

Both men were drunk when they entered that house at 11pm on May 13 and threatened violence.

No violence was used but, concerned for her safety, Veronica rang gardai, Inspector Fergus Treanor told the court.

In her recent book, 'Witness to Evil', Veronica said she loved her three brothers more than they would ever know and her two sons with all her heart.

She described giving up newborn Bernard for adoption, but went back for him the next day, naming him after her murdered father.

Bernard, who was living in a mobile home outside his mother's house, had been barred from seeing her following evidence given in a family law hearing. The evidence was not disclosed yesterday.

Living so close to her was, solicitor Louis Kiernan said, "not an ideal situation" for the tormented young man, who appeared quiet in court.

Judge Patrick Clyne agreed, saying that all it took was one step over the threshold to breach the court order. Bernard spent 11 days in custody after he did just that in May.

Andrew McGrath, who has completed an alcohol treatment course, was supported by his partner. He "greatly regrets" breaching his safety order.

Mr Kiernan confirmed there was no reason why either man needed to go back to their family home.

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