Craughwell siblings of murdered publican seek damages over his death

Margaret Lavelle and Patrick (Patsi) Nevin, sister and brother of murder victim Tom Nevin, pictured leaving court during the trial of Catherine Nevin some years ago.

Margaret Lavelle and Patrick (Patsi) Nevin, sister and brother of murder victim Tom Nevin, pictured leaving court during the trial of Catherine Nevin some years ago.

Two of murdered publican Tom Nevin's siblings have asked the High Court this week to rule that evidence from the murder trial is admissible as part of a fresh civil action.

Patrick Nevin and Margaret Lavelle from Ballinagran, Craughwell, are brother and sister of Mr Nevin and administrators of his estate. They want their sister-in-law Catherine Nevin fully disinherited, so that she cannot take any share in her husband's estate. They are also seeking damages over his death.

Counsel said it would be illogical and an abuse of process if the conviction could not be used in a civil action. But Catherine Nevin (61 ), who has always denied any involvement in the murder, disputes their claim.

In 2000, she was convicted of murdering Tom Nevin at their pub, Jack White's Inn, near Brittas Bay, Co Wicklow, on March 19, 1996. He received a single gunshot wound to the chest.

Catherine Nevin was jailed for life on that charge and received a seven-year sentence for soliciting three men to kill her husband in 1989 and 1990.

An appeal against the conviction was dismissed in 2003 and another bid to have her case declared a miscarriage of justice was also rejected.

But an application to have her appeal referred to the Supreme Court is pending before the Court of Criminal Appeal.

In an affidavit, sworn last July from the Dochas Centre women's prison, where Catherine Nevin is serving her sentence, she repeatedly denied murdering or being complicit in the murder of her husband.

She also opposed the civil case being heard in advance of the "final determination" of the criminal matter.

Catherine Nevin opposed the certificate of her conviction – or transcripts from her 42-day trial – being admitted in the civil case.

But she said that if she was required to go into the witness box she would "welcome" the opportunity "to state on oath that I was not in any manner complicit in the death of my late husband".

Catherine Nevin also said she had "much fresh evidence which could be used to show that – even on the balance of probabilities – I did not murder my husband or solicit any person or persons to murder him".

The Nevin siblings' counsel, George Brady, urged the court to find that the murder conviction would be an essential proof in a civil action.

Seamus O Tuathail SC, for Mrs Nevin, argued that it would be wrong to allow evidence of the conviction to be admitted in circumstances where the criminal proceedings had not been exhausted. Mr Justice Roderick Murphy said he hoped to give a ruling in the new year.

In their statement of claim, Patrick Nevin, of Tynagh, Loughrea, and Margaret Lavelle, of Ballinagran, Craughwell – both Co Galway – say their late brother's assets included Jack White's pub, which was jointly owned and was sold by his widow in late 1997 for IR£620,000 (€787,000 ).

Mr Nevin, who did not leave a will, owned two properties in Dublin. He also had a policy with Irish Life Assurance for almost IR£78,000 (€99,000 ) and a bank account of about IR£197,000 (€250,000 ).

In a counter-claim, Nevin sought declarations that she is entitled to these assets.


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