Saturday 19 August 2017

Gardai quiz brother over fatal shooting of pensioner

A local sergeant leaving the scene just outside the village of Shillelagh, Co Wicklow, where the shooting took place. MICHAEL KELLY
A local sergeant leaving the scene just outside the village of Shillelagh, Co Wicklow, where the shooting took place. MICHAEL KELLY

Edel Kennedy

GARDAI are continuing to question a man after his pensioner brother was shot dead in their home.

Walter Tompkins (66) died of gunshot wounds on Thursday after a suspected family dispute at his rural country house on the family farm. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

His younger brother Cecil Tompkins (62) was arrested for questioning afterwards. Gardai are not seeking anybody else in connection with the shooting.

Walter Tompkins was shot dead at 6.30pm at their isolated home outside the village of Shillelagh, Co Wicklow, in what was believed to be a row with his brother over where their mother was buried.



Wounds

A shotgun blast was heard by worried neighbours, who then contacted the emergency services. Gardai arrived at the scene to find Walter Tompkins with gunshot wounds.

Medics arrived at the house but the 66-year-old was pronounced dead. His body remained there for a number of hours as gardai carried out a technical examination.

Walter Tompkins lived in the house with his brother and their elderly mother, Isabella (90), for many years. She died on June 26.

Her funeral service was held at St Michael's Church, Aghold, with burial afterwards in the family plot in the adjoining cemetery.

Gardai were last night continuing to question Cecil Tompkins in an attempt to determine the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

A number of neighbours arrived at the scene and said the family "did not want to speak".

Others spoke of their shock at the second tragedy to hit the family in as many weeks.

They said the Tompkins were a "quiet family" who were well liked in the area. The family originally came from Camolin, Co Wexford, before moving to Shillelagh 40 years ago.

Church of Ireland clergyman Canon Mervyn McCullough, who is serving the parish, said that the entire community was deeply shocked and saddened by the "family tragedy".

"Walter was a good man and worker," he said. "He will be greatly missed by everyone in the parish. A very great loss."

Cecil Tompkins is understood to have been suffering ill health and had not been able to work lately. He recently started using walking sticks to get around.

The brothers worked together on their farm outside the village and as contractors on neighbouring farms.

Walter Tompkins was said to be the "more sociable" of the two and was interested in vintage tractors.

One neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said they were stunned to hear of Walter Tompkins's death.

"He was a hard worker and spent a lot of time on the farm," he said. "We're all just trying to get our heads around it at the moment."

Yesterday, investigating gardai continued with a forensic examination of the scene while a post-mortem took place at Naas General Hospital.

A third brother -- who is married and lives in the area -- declined to comment on the family tragedy.

Cecil Tompkins can be held for 72 hours from his time of arrest until he is released or charged.

Irish Independent

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