Sunday 26 March 2017

Family of man (64) beaten to death with bat tell of horror

Matthew Cummins. Photograph: James Flynn/APX
Matthew Cummins. Photograph: James Flynn/APX

Eoin Reynolds

The family of a 64-year-old man who was murdered by three men after they broke into his home has told of their shock and horror at how he died.

Relatives of Thomas 'Toddy' Dooley spoke out yesterday as the three men convicted of his murder were all handed life sentences for the crime.

James Davy arriving at Tullamore District Court. Photograph: James Flynn/APX
James Davy arriving at Tullamore District Court. Photograph: James Flynn/APX

In a statement to the Central Criminal Court, the victim's four sisters, Catherine Darby, Cora McAuley, Ann Fennessy and Rose Murphy, niece Denise Murphy and nephews John and William Murphy said they were "horrified and shocked at the cruel and heartless way" he was brutally taken from them and his family "never got the chance to say goodbye".

They said no family should go through what they suffered and that they hoped for justice. The brief statement concluded: "We hope his death was not in vain."

Matthew Cummins (22), of Churchview Heights, Edenderry, Co Offaly, was convicted of Mr Dooley's murder in his Edenderry home on August 5 last. His co-accused, Seán Davy (22), of Clonmullen Drive, Edenderry, and James Davy (25), of Thornhill Meadows, Celbridge, Co Kildare, were convicted on August 4.

The trial heard that Mr Dooley suffered eight blows to the head with a baseball bat that smashed his skull and disfigured his face.

Seán Davy arriving at Tullamore District Court. Photograph: James Flynn/APX
Seán Davy arriving at Tullamore District Court. Photograph: James Flynn/APX

The trial was told that the three men had been drinking heavily on the night of the killing.

They were kicked out of a house party and made their way to a local 24-hour garage, where they got cups and a mixer for a bottle of vodka. Then they made the decision to go to Toddy Dooley's house.

Matthew Cummins had been in the house before and knew the 64-year-old.

Cummins climbed in a window and then opened another window to let the other two in. Mr Dooley was used to having young visitors at irregular hours and it appears he did not object.

He sat down in his armchair, opened a can of Budweiser and drank with the intruders.

The three gave different accounts of what happened next.

Matthew Cummins claimed that "out of the blue" Seán Davy walked up behind the 64-year-old and beat him on the head with the bat, before coming around the armchair to continue the beating from the front.

Seán Davy claimed that James Davy was responsible for most of the blows and that he himself struck Mr Dooley once, but "not full force". James Davy denied laying a hand on Mr Dooley, saying that Seán Davy beat him with the bat and Matthew Cummins kicked Mr Dooley but not with much force. None of the three took responsibility for the attempts to set Mr Dooley's clothes and armchair on fire.

Detective Garda Joseph Bradley told the court that all three men had previous convictions.

Matthew Cummins, he said, had 69 convictions, dating back to August 2008.

Seán Davy had seven previous convictions, including for assault and burglary, while James Davy had 21, including motoring offences and criminal damage.

Before sentencing, Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan said the murder was a "brutal, motiveless attack on this defenceless elderly man".

She first asked Cummins to stand up and sentenced him to the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. The judge then called Seán Davy and lastly James Davy, on whom she imposed the same sentence.

She backdated all three sentences to take into account time spent in custody awaiting trial since November 24, 2014, when they were first charged.

Irish Independent

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