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Father killed with spade 'a bad man', widow tells trial

A father whose son is on trial for murdering him was a "bad man", his widow told a court yesterday.

James McInerney (23), of Lacey Avenue, Templemore, Co Tipperary, has pleaded not guilty to murdering 56-year-old James 'Jimmy' McInerney Snr at the family home on June 17, 2009.

The victim's widow Eileen McInerney told the Central Criminal Court that they would have been married 25 years this summer and they had 10 children.

It was an arranged marriage as they were Travellers, she said, but it was not a happy one.

"He was violent and very dangerous. If he got in the house, he'd beat you up," she told the court. "I used to lock myself in, I was that afraid of him."

She said this had been going on more than 20 years and she did not allow him into the house when drunk; he slept in a caravan out the back.

"He'd get drunk and come up and beat me. I ended up in hospital with 40 to 50 stitches," she said, explaining that he had beaten her face with broken bottles, iron bars and sticks, and that the beatings didn't stop when she was pregnant.

"I'd run away with the kids into the neighbours and to the nuns," she recalled.

She said he used to beat their children too, especially the defendant. "He gave James an awful life. He couldn't go to bed. He used to have to lie in ditches and in people's hay barns," she said. "He broke his two hands and his leg."

She said her husband had forced him to drink alcohol from an early age, beating him if he refused.

Her son wouldn't leave home though. "He stayed anyway because he was very protective of me," she said. "I don't think I'd be here today only for him."

When asked what would set her husband off, she replied: "Nothing at all. He'd just do it and that's it. He was a bad man."

Earlier, a woman told the trial that she looked out her window one night last year and saw her neighbour beating his father with a shovel.

Margaret Carroll said that the deceased was roaring abuse at his wife from his back yard that night.

"He was cursing at his wife, asking her to let him into the house," she testified. "He was calling her names: whore and tramp."

Ms Carroll went upstairs and looked out her back window.

"He had I think a shovel in his hand," she recalled. "He drew a belt at the door with it."

She said that Mrs McInerney wouldn't let her husband in and he smashed a beer bottle on the ground.

"He was calling everybody names, telling them to come out," she said.

She rang the gardai after he smashed a window in the defendant's van with a stone.

"I saw young Jimmy (the defendant) smacking old Jimmy (the deceased) with the shovel," she said, explaining that she saw him swing it about six times.

"Young Jimmy came around the front after a while. He said he didn't mean to kill him," she said.

The trial continues before Mr Justice John Edwards.

Belfast Telegraph