'I got angry because I saw sister's killer in face of victim', says murder accused
Published 05/11/2015 | 02:30
Violence, the Central Criminal Court has heard, has been a feature of Sabrina Cummins life.
Yesterday Ms Cummins (37), who stands accused of the murder of Thomas Horan (63) took the stand as a defence witness in her murder trial.
Her brother Kenneth Cummins (28) also stands accused of Mr Horan's murder at his sheltered accommodation in Cambridge Court in Ringsend on January 6 last year.
Both siblings have pleaded not guilty to murder.
Mr Cummins has asked not to be present during the trial. And the jury has been told by trial judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt that no adverse inferences can be drawn from his absence, as it is a decision taken on a voluntary basis.
Yesterday, Ms Cummins gave evidence in her own defence and said it is her brother Kenneth who is responsible for Mr Horan's death. Ms Cummins detailed in her evidence how she and other siblings had been placed into foster care at an early age after neighbours complained about the domestic violence meted out to her late mother by her alcoholic father and expressed concern about the welfare of the couple's nine children.
Ms Cummins said she cannot conceive children after a violent assault by a former partner from Albania when she was pregnant, in which she "nearly died".
She also told the jury of six men and six women how she was very close to her sister Breda, who was murdered in 2010 by a former partner.
Breaking down in tears, Ms Cummins told her Senior Counsel, Blaise O'Carroll, that as well as her sister Breda's murder, there were other family tragedies, including an assault on a younger brother which resulted in the then 24-year-old being in a coma.
It was her own admissions of violence against Tom Horan, a man her trial has heard she regarded as like a foster father or father figure, that were under consideration when Ms Cummins was cross examined by prosecutor Remy Farrell SC.
It is the prosecution's case that Mr Horan, who was, his brother-in-law Jim Muldoon earlier told the trial, "mentally challenged" and "an easy touch", was murdered by the siblings after he was beaten, stabbed with a fork, strangled and poisoned with cleaning fluids in an attempt to cover up a robbery.
Yesterday, Ms Cummins admitted punching and kicking Mr Horan once because she was angry, but told the jury that it is her brother Kenneth who is responsible for his death.
"I started attacking him (Mr Horan) then with my brother because I lost the head," said Ms Cummins, who said that she got angry because she saw her sister's killer in the face of Mr Horan.
Mr Farrell put it to Ms Cummins that her brother Kenneth had "tortured" Mr Horan for money and that it did look very much like money was "the first thing on her mind" when she turned up at his front door on the charade or pretence that her brother Kenneth was a taxi driver who needed to be paid.
Ms Cummins initially denied that she told Mr Horan that she needed to pay the taxi man.
However, she admitted in cross examination that this was a lie and that she had lied to the jury about this.
"We're only 10 minutes in and we've established that you are prepared to tell lies to the jury to protect yourself," said Mr Farrell.
Ms Cummins said she lied to gardaí after placing a 999 call because she was terrified of what had happened to Mr Horan.
She insisted that she did not "torture" Mr Horan, whom the prosecution maintain was strangled, suffocated and poisoned.
However, she agreed with Mr Farrell that Mr Horan had screamed for his life after, she said, her brother Kenneth had attacked Mr Horan with a knife but did not draw blood.
"I wasn't torturing Tom for any money, I can't stop my brother," she said.
Asked by Mr Farrell why Mr Horan wasn't just stabbed to death, Ms Cummins said: "When he (Kenneth) goes off on one, he goes off on one."
Mr Farrell asked Ms Cummins if she shouted at Kenneth to stop.
"Did you shout loudly," asked Mr Farrell. "Not very loudly, like," replied Ms Cummins.
Mr Farrell put it to Ms Cummins that she would "say anything to get off".
Ms Cummins, who described herself as "a caring person" said she had no reason to lie.
However, she agreed with Mr Farrell that she had lied on several occasions to the jury yesterday during her evidence. Asked why she had done so, Ms Cummins said: "I don't know."
Ms Cummins told the Central Criminal Court that she suffered from panic attacks and last suffered a panic attack when her mother died six months ago.
"You didn't have one when Tom Horan was murdered," said Mr Farrell.
The trial continues.