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Dublin: 3°C Friday 14 May 2021

'It was either him or me': Murder accused tells court victim came at him with a knife

Keith Connorton (40) is accused of stabbing his ex-partner’s lover to death in February 2017.

Image: grainne

A MAN ACCUSED of stabbing his partner’s lover to death after catching her cheating told gardaí that the deceased came at him with a knife and, “it was either him or me that was getting stabbed,” a murder trial has heard.

Keith Connorton (40) said he managed to turn the knife around and stab 32-year-old Graham McKeever at the accused’s home at Deerpark Avenue, Tallaght on 18 February 2017. Connorton has pleaded not guilty to murdering McKeever and is on trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Defence counsel Michael O’Higgins SC was cross-examining the accused man’s partner Claire McGrath. O’Higgins showed McGrath and the jury a video of an interview given by the accused to gardaí following his arrest on 20 February 2017.

In it Connorton told gardaí he came home in the early hours, put on the kettle and made some toast. He had argued with McGrath two days earlier and hoped she was asleep but she came into the kitchen and told him to get out, that their relationship was finished.

He was “devastated” at this, he said, and when she told him to get out he reminded her it was his home and he pays the rent. Then he heard someone in the bedroom and asked was there someone else there.

He said: “That’s when things started getting messy.”

He hit her “across the face” and asked who was “in our bed, in my bed”. She told him to get out. “Then this big young fella comes out half-naked and clocks me,” he said.

The accused told gardaí that he thinks he “blacked out” and that McKeever must have hit him a “load of times” as he had “lumps” all over him. The next thing he remembers is McGrath screaming at McKeever to “put down the knife”.

McKeever, he said, came at him but the accused got up and grabbed the knife by the blade, cutting his own hand. He didn’t feel the pain and managed to turn the knife around and stab McKeever “a couple of times”.

He got the knife off McKeever and said he thinks he may have stabbed him again. There was blood everywhere. He called 999 and tried to do CPR on McKeever. He added: “I was trying to keep him alive.”

McGrath started screaming “he’s dead” and told Connorton to leave so he “legged it”. He spent the rest of the night in a ditch and cried.

He added: “I didn’t mean to kill that guy.

The last thing I expected was for somebody to be in my home. He came at me with a knife and I grabbed the knife. It was him or me that was getting stabbed and unfortunately it was him.

He said he was “very, very sorry. I didn’t mean for this to happen.” He further told gardaí that he thinks this was the first time McGrath had another man in the apartment.

“She’s not like that,” he said.

McGrath accepted that this account differed from the one she gave to the jury last week and to statements she gave to gardaí immediately following the fatal stabbing.

She said she was on prescribed painkillers and Xanax when she gave her statements and her account is not reliable. “I was out of my head,” she added. She said it is possible that Connorton’s account is more reliable than her own.

She further agreed that she may have “slanted” her earlier statements to favour McKeever because she felt bad for him and against Connorton because she was angry with him at the time.

Sergeant Camon Ryan told O’Higgins that McGrath was calm and did not appear to be “out of her head” when giving her second statement at her mother’s home on the evening after the fatal stabbing.

The trial continues in front of Justice Tony Hunt and a jury of nine men and three women.

Comments are closed as the case is ongoing

About the author:

Eoin Reynolds

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