Monday 19 February 2018

Cecil Tomkins appeal decision reserved

Tim Healy

A COURT hopes to give a decision within the next two weeks in an appeal by a man jailed for life for murdering his older brother in a row over their mother's burial wishes.

Cecil Tomkins (63), a farmer who suffers with Parkinson's disease and now living at New Lodge Nursing Home, Stocking Lane, Rathfarnham, Dublin, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering Walter Tomkins (66) at Cronlea, Shillelagh, Wicklow, on July 1, 2010.

Last April, he was jailed for life by Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan after a jury of nine men and three women found him guilty of murder by unanimous decision following a seven-day trial.

During the trial, the court heard how the now wheelchair-bound defendant told gardai he shot his brother and fellow bachelor in the hallway of the house they shared because Walter did not follow his mother's burial wishes.

Bella Tomkins was buried locally in Aghowle with her late husband just three days before the shooting, even though she had reserved a plot in Gorey and had left a letter outlining her wishes and money to put toward her burial there.

The Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) part heard an appeal against the verdict last July. The CCA was told Tomkins’ physical condition had deteriorated since the trial and that he was unable to feed himself.

Among their submissions to the CCA seeking to overturn the jury's decision as unsafe, his lawyers argued there was a question over whether he was capable of forming the necessary intent for murder given his medical condition.

An MRI scan indicated Tomkins’ brain was afflicted with atrophy of the frontal lobes, the area which inhibits impulsive and anti-social behaviour, it was argued.

It was also submitted that if the normal inhibitory function of the frontal lobes was severely affected or removed at the time of the offence, then his normal decision making capacity could have been affected.

The jury’s verdict in this regard was "perverse", as an essential facet of intent was the ability to form rational decisions, and if this was inhibited by physical damage to the brain, the jury had before it evidence which should have caused it to "hesitate", it was argued.

The State opposed the appeal.

Following further submissions from the defence and the prosecution, Mr Justice John MacMenamin, sitting with Mr Justice Gerard Hogan and Mr Justice Michael Moriarty, said he hoped the court could deliver its decision within the next two weeks.

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