Saturday 20 January 2018

Murder accused admits stabbings to friend and prays to picture of Sacred Heart for forgiveness

Nicola Donnelly

A FRIEND of a man accused of murdering his former partner in has told a Central Criminal Court jury the accused called to his house on the night, admitted what he had done and looked to a picture of The Scared Heart on the wall, blessed himself and said "forgive me for what I have done."

Martin Byrne gave evidence on day three of the trial of Michael McDonald who is accused of murdering Breda Cummins in a house in Athy in Kildare.

He said at around 12.50am on May 13, 2010, McDonald knocked on his front door and he invited him in.

McDonald (50) of Barnhill, Castledermot has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Ms Cummins on May 13, 2010 at Michael Dooley Terrace, Athy.

He further pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm to John Lawlor (44) of Pearse Terrace, Castledermot at Michael Dooley Terrace on the same date.

McDonald has admitted to the manslaughter of the 31-year-old mother of one but this plea has not been accepted by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

“He looked calm and casual but white in the face. He didn't sit down for a while and then he said he is after doing something terribly stupid and wrong – that he had stabbed two people. He never mentioned names at first then he said 'Froggie and Breda.' I didn't know them,” said Mr Byrne.

Mr Byrne, of Towns Park in Athy, said McDonald told him he had a couple of cans at home after his dinner and that 'Froggie' (John Lawlor) and Ms Cummins had been ringing and texting him all day.

“He said he got pissed off with the phone calls and texts and said he got a knife and walked out of his house to go to Michael Fennell's house,” said Mr Byrne.

Mr Byrne told counsel McDonald then told him he boxed Michael Fennell in the face, stabbed Mr Lawlor in the hand and then went upstairs and stuck the knife in Ms Cummins' heart saying 'now you bastard, you won't ring or text me anymore.'

“He told me she was dead in the bed in the house and he said he got the knife from his home. He said he got pissed off,” he said.

“He then asked me had I any drugs going like heroin or weed and I told him I don't do that,” said Mr Byrne.

Mr Byrne said McDonald had told him he had “felt terrible” and had brought shame on his life.

He said when McDonald left his house two hours later in a taxi, he turned to Mr Byrne and said “God bless ye, ye might not see me any more after tonight. Don't do stupid things like I did. I'm going to pay for it now.”

Under cross-examining by defence counsel Mr Fergal Kavanagh, SC, Mr Byrne agreed that it wasn't long after McDonald sat down in his house that he started to say a prayer.

Mr Byrne said he “didn't believe” McDonald when he told him he had stabbed two people. “I felt sorry for him. I didn't believe him and I just listened to him.”

“He had no blood on him, he was clean, and he was alright. I wasn't afraid of him and I offered him a room to stay the night. I just didn't believe him because who would walk in to someone's house and say they stabbed people?” said Mr Byrne.

He said he called gardai the following morning when he had heard of the stabbing of Ms Cummins and Mr Lawlor.

When it was put to him by Mr Kavanagh that he told gardai McDonald was “off his head” he said he meant McDonald “had to be off his head” to do what he had done.

He said McDonald kept looking at the picture of The Scared Heart which was hanging in Mr Byrne's sitting room, saying he was ashamed of himself and blessing himself.

He said a taxi came to bring McDonald to Newbridge but the taxi ended up bringing him back to his house in Castledermot.

Ms Martina Hickey, a friend of the accused said McDonald had called to her house in Carbury Park on the night of the stabbings but that she did not let him in as he had phoned her earlier in the day and he appeared to have been drinking.

“I had my grandson and daughter in the house and it was late at night so I didn't let him in,” said Ms Hickey.

She said earlier in the evening McDonald had phoned her wanting to get a taxi to Athy.

Under cross-examining by defence counsel she agreed that he may have been looking for a number for a taxi from Athy to Castledermot to bring Ms Cummins to his home.

“In my own mind he was looking for Breda,” she said. A brown handled kitchen knife was found in her front garden the following morning. She told the court the knife did not belong to her and that she did not give anyone permission to put it into her garden.

The trial continues before Ms Justice Iseult O'Malley and a jury of eight men and four women.

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