Wicklow murder trial: Farmer's judgement 'impaired by dementia'

Wicklow murder trial: Farmer's judgement 'impaired by dementia'

The trial of a Co Wicklow farmer who denies murdering his brother in a row over his mother’s burial wishes has heard "dementia impaired his judgement".

Cecil Tomkins (aged 63), of New Lodge Nursing Home, Stocking Lane, Rathfarnham in Dublin has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering Walter Tomkins (aged 66) at Cronlea, Shillelagh on July 1, 2010.

The bachelor, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, told gardaí that he shot his brother Walter, who was also a bachelor, in the hallway of the house they shared because he did not follow his mother’s burial wishes.

The trial has heard their mother Bella Tomkins had been buried just days before on June 28 locally in Aghowle with her late husband.

Her original wish was to be buried with family in Kilcormac, Co Wexford but the court was told she had later reserved a plot in Gorey in 2001 and left a letter with outlining her wishes and money in an envelope to be buried there.

Consultant psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital Dr Paul O’ Connell told the court it was his opinion the accused has dementia which "impaired his judgement” and that “ a defence of diminished responsibility is available”.

He told Mr John O’ Kelly SC defending a defence of insanity may be possible but it is difficult to establish because he did not assess the accused closer to the time of the incident.

Under cross-examination by Mr Dominic McGinn SC, prosecuting, he agreed that the accused’s mental health would not be the same in 2012 as it was in 2010 but said it was his concern “he would have been suffering substantial effects of his dementia.” Dr O’ Connell told Mr McGinn he did not see evidence of impulsivity in the accused.

Dr O’ Connell told the court he reviewed the accused on February 1, 2012 and he had been instructed that he had been charged with the murder of his brother Walter.

The accused told him he remembered his parents having rows and although they lived together they led separate lives. He would not disclose the nature of these rows as he said he wanted to keep it private.

He told Dr O’ Connell he left school when he was 14, that he inherited 50 acres of land and that he had never had a relationship.

Dr O’ Connell said he had no psychiatric history, no previous convictions and he told him he would drink odd time but had never been drunk.

He said the accused told him a dispute started over where his mother was to be buried and said: “I suppose I overreacted”.

“I got the gun and shot him. I regretted it the moment I did it,” the accused told the psychiatrist.

The accused told him he went to tell his nephew what had happened and when he got back his brother was dead.

Dr Maria Murphy told Mr O’ Kelly that the accused first came to her in 2006 but his final diagnosis was only formalised in May or June 2010 while he was at Tallaght Hospital.

She agreed with Mr McGinn under cross-examination that there were no signs of the accused being assaulted.

Scientist Professor Ciaran Regan said he was provided with a list of medication he was on and one of these was called Stalevo, an anti-Parkinson’s drug.

He told Mr O’ Kelly that the accused had recently been switched recently from a different drug but he said he would “be surprised if something unusual happened.”

The defence has now concluded its evidence and the trial is now in its closing stages before a jury of nine men and three women presided over by Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan.

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