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Bouncer charged with manslaughter after Galway publican 'savagely beaten to death'

John Kenny was found dead on 25 September 2011.

Image: PA Images

A WOMAN HAS told a court that her deceased husband told her he was “a prisoner in his own home” several weeks before he was savagely beaten to death. 

The body of publican John Kenny was discovered at Kenny’s Bar, Main Street, Oughterard, Co Galway by his wife Kathleen and daughter Gillian on the evening of Sunday 25 September , 2011.

Before Galway Circuit Court today, both women struggled with their emotions as they recalled the moment they discovered his body in the ladies toilets.

He had been tied up and brutally beaten; when discovered, he was lying face down with his hands tied tightly behind his back and a jacket placed around his head.

Marian Lingurar Jr. (24), with an address at Blackpool, Co. Cork, has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Kenny and not guilty to a further charge of trespass with intent to commit an offence.

Kathleen Kenny told the court, “I was 14 or 15 when I met John at my first dance and I loved him ever since”, and said that though they had separated, “we were always best friends and we grew closer after that, in fact”.

She said that “John would often eat in my house, or we’d put dinner on a plate for him”.

She said it was highly unusual that, having spoken to him on Saturday evening, he had not made contact by late the following afternoon.

She said he would usually call her or their daughter Gillian either on the Saturday night before the bar opened, or else early on the Sunday morning to say how the night had gone.

Phone found

Both gave evidence today that they went into a state of panic when a local businessman called Gillian Kenny on Sunday afternoon from her father’s phone, which had been found on the street in Oughterard that morning.

Kathleen Kenny proceeded immediately to Kenny’s bar, where she discovered the front door was open, and immediately knew something was wrong.

However, she admitted she had thought that her husband had possibly suffered a heart attack or fell rather than something sinister.

“I ran towards the door, shouting and screaming his name, but something was stopping me from getting down the back of the bar”, Kenny told the court.

A local man who had been passing by the scene at the time came to their aid, and it was he who discovered and removed a chair wedged underneath the handle of the door to prevent it from opening.

Before them was the body of John Kenny, face down, with his hands tied behind his back with what was today described as an “electrical cable” tied so tight it was “cutting his skin” and a jacket wrapped around his head.

Testimonial was read out before the court from attending doctor, Dr. Peter Harte, which further noted his pants and underwear had also been partly pulled down, his face was blue in colour, and there were “visible abrasions on his left flank”.

Prosecuting Counsel, Patrick Gageby SC, told jurors that a post-mortem examination revealed that John Kenny suffered extensive injuries to his head, neck and trunk, including “fractures, front and back”, consistent with punches or kicks, or blows from a large object.

Two men – Florin Fitzpatrick and Marian Lingurar – have previously been jailed on charges of withholding information in the case – but the state withdrew a charge of manslaughter against Marian Lingurar.

Giving evidence today, both Kathleen and Gillian Kenny said they considered Florin Fitzpatrick – who it’s understood worked sporadically at the bar over a number of years – a particularly negative influence on John Kenny.

Kathleen Kenny said: “He was not trusted by John, John wanted him out of his life but just could not get rid of him, he did not feel safe with Florin but would not like to talk about it.”

She noted that her, and her daughter, had once visited Fitzpatrick at his home to plead with him to leave John Kenny alone. 

She further claimed that Florin Fitzpatrick often brought people to the bar that John had no control over, and on one occasion he had sat in the bar with all the lights off, afraid to turn on the TV, as a number of people stood outside.

“I’m a prisoner in my own home”, Ms Kenny claims John Kenny had said on that occasion.

When asked why John Kenny didn’t simply do that – get rid of Fitzpatrick – his daughter Gillian said despite her dislike of him, “he came across as quite charming” and “he could talk the talk.”

She also admitted that her father never outwardly said he was afraid of Fitzpatrick.

‘No friend’

However, today she expressed an opinion that Florian Fitzpatrick was “no friend of my father, a devious individual and I feel he brought people out to do his dirty work”.

She added: “I was scared of him and I still am scared of him”.

She originally gave a statement to gardaí stating that “for not one second” did she suspect anyone for the death other than Fitzpatrick.

When it was put to her that Fitzpatrick had never faced manslaughter charges, Gillian Kenny said “I feel you’re trying to put words in my mouth” and explained that she believes Fitzpatrick is ultimately responsible, though he would not have “laid a finger” on her father himself.

Kathleen Kenny also gave evidence that John Kenny was out of sorts in the weeks leading up to this death, and despite being a “good humored” person, he was not in good form and “looked as if he had been crying” in the week before his death.

His daughter Gillian gave similar evidence; she said, “he was uneasy and not himself and it was like he was trying to put on a show for us”.

She added that it was the biggest regret of her life that she had not gone to Kenny’s bar that night as her father had requested.

Both women also noted that he was old-fashioned in that he only dealt in cash, with Kathleen Kenny noting that he kept savings in a safe on the premises.

Witness Edward McDonagh, who drank at the bar that night, said John Kenny was “very inebriated, very drunk” and at one point was sitting with his head on the bar.

He and his girlfriend were the last to leave the bar, and he said at that point, John Kenny was sitting on a chair by the fire.

The only people left at the bar at that stage, he said, were Florin Fitzpatrick, John Kenny, and two other men he described as “Eastern European or Romanian”.

He said these two men “didn’t seem to do anything other than stand around and look scary.”

Bouncer

The prosecution alleges that Marian Lingurar Jr. – who’s now facing manslaughter charges and was a juvenile at the time – was working at Kenny’s Bar as a bouncer on the night of John Kenny’s death on 25 September 2011.

They say that he left with Florin Fitzpatrick and Marian Lingurar at around 1.30am.

The prosecution will seek to prove that the accused returned around 2.20am and stayed for around 40 minutes.

Prosecuting Counsel, Patrick Gageby SC, said: “It is the prosecution’s intention to prove that the accused did so out of a desire to steal from the premises – and if necessary, visit violence upon John Kenny.”

Jurors were today shown maps of Oughterard, Claregalway, Moycullen and Galway City, which detailed mobile phone masts and CCTV locations in these areas – with the prosecution noting that CCTV is an important aspect of the case.

They were also shown images of Kenny’s Bub, Oughterard village, the then home address of the accused and of a car at that address.

The trial is expected to last around two weeks at Galway Circuit Court.

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About the author:

David Nevin

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