Wednesday 29 March 2017

'Breathtaking' bid to withdraw plea as sister jailed for murder

Kenneth Cummins
Kenneth Cummins
The scene of the murder of Thomas Horan in Ringsend, Dublin, in January 2014
Sabrina Cummins

Alison O'Riordan

A man made a "breathtaking" application to withdraw his guilty plea for murdering a "mentally challenged" 63-year-old while his co-accused sister was handed a life sentence.

Kenneth Cummins (28), of Ringsend Park, Dublin 4, pleaded not guilty to the charge initially but four weeks into the trial for murdering Thomas Horan in January 2014, he changed his plea to guilty.

But yesterday Giollaiosa O Lideadha SC told the judge he had been instructed to have his client's plea of guilty vacated as he had not been in a fit state to make the plea on November 11.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt asked Mr O Lideadha: "Where would they go from here?", on the assumption that the application to change the plea would be successful.

Mr O Lideadha said if the plea was vacated, Mr Cummins would have to go on trial again.

"This was a man who couldn't wait to get out of the building and now he wants to come back," said Mr Justice Hunt.

"He wants a retrial and if it was possible to reconstitute the jury," replied Mr O Lideadha.

Prosecution counsel Remy Farrell SC said this application was "breathtaking".

Mr Farrell said Mr Cummins wanted an opportunity to run the trial again without his co-accused and he opposed it.

Mr Justice Hunt said it was a "remarkable application" and Mr Cummins would be "pushing a rock up a hill, but we will see where it goes".

The court then proceeded with the sentence of Sabrina Cummins (37). She was handed a life sentence for murder, backdated to January 8, 2014.

Ms Cummins pleaded not guilty to murder, but last Tuesday a jury brought in a unanimous verdict of guilty at the Central Criminal Court.

Margaret Horan, the former partner of Thomas Horan, is now in a nursing home, a place she feels she wouldn't be if he was still alive. The court heard Mr Horan and Margaret separated in 2000.

Mr Farrell read a victim impact statement written by Mr Horan's brother-in-law, Jim Muldoon. "Tom used to walk up to Marge every other day. He was physically fit, never drank, or smoked, but he had the mental capacity of a 12-year-old, of his time," read Mr Farrell.

"Marge is very aware of the circumstances of Tom's death, and Sabrina. Marge did mention that Tom was afraid of Sabrina," read Mr Farrell.

"She said she used to tell him not to answer the door after a particular time at night. Marge would be a bit more street smart than Tom would have been. After Tom's death, Marge did go into a state of depression, she wouldn't eat or wash herself, she went to skin and bone.

"Marge is unfortunately aware of the horrible accusations that were made against Tom during this trial and it is sad that his character was attacked. Tom was so loyal, trusting and innocent."

During the trial, the court heard that in a phone call from prison Kenneth Cummins told a friend that he killed Mr Horan because he had allegedly abused the accused's late sister Breda.

Mr Justice Hunt said this was a difficult and depressing case.

He said "phoney stories" were told to gardaí in Sabrina's first three interviews.

"She is a murderer and a brazen hard-nosed liar and she did so at every juncture to cover up the death of Thomas Horan. I've rarely come across a case where evidence is so solid," he said.

Mr Justice Hunt said another unusual feature of the case was the fact that Sabrina Cummins got into the witness box and admitted to Mr Horan's murder. The judge said he did not know how she "can have any complaint" concerning the verdict.

The application for Kenneth Cummins will be dealt with on Monday, December 7.

Irish Independent

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