Sunday 26 January 2020

Murder accused tells court of stabbing his ex-lover in a frenzy

Nicola Donnelly

A MAN accused of murdering his former partner told gardai he stabbed the mother-of-one repeatedly in what he described as a "frenzied stabbing, striking her in the heart".

Michael McDonald initially thought he had only stabbed Breda Cummins in the arm and had not intended to kill her.

Initial interviews with McDonald which were taken by gardai the following day were read out to the jury at the Central Criminal Court.

“I said to her I love you and then stabbed her repeatedly. She was in fear of me. I lost the plot. I was in a rage. I said f**k you, bitch, you messed up my life,” he said to gardai in his interview. It was day four of the trial.

McDonald (51) of Barnhill, Castledermot, Co Kildare, 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 but this plea has not been accepted by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

He told gardai Ms Cummins was looking at him as he stabbed her and her last word was 'Michael.'

He said he stopped stabbing Ms Cummins because she was dead. “I was hoping she wasn't but I was hoping against hope.”

He said he did not mean to kill Ms Cummins, with whom he had a five-year relationship with and they had gotten engaged on Valentine's Day, three months prior to her death. He admitted the couple had quite a tempestuous relationship but that he did love her.

He said he had tried to get Ms Cummins help for her alcoholism and that she could be quite aggressive when she was drunk.

He said they had split up following a row that March and she started going out with John Lawlor.

He felt Mr Lawlor “took advantage of her when she was vulnerable” and he went to the house where she was staying to “rescue” her as she told him earlier in the evening she wanted to go back to his house in Castledermot.

He told gardai had consumed a flagon and a half of cider that evening and took two Dalmane sleeping tablets along with two Valium.

He said the night was “all a bit of a daze” and that he wasn't sure if Ms Cummins had phoned him or he had phoned her but that he did remember she wanted to get out of the house and go to his house.

He said he initially lied to gardai that he did not bring a knife to the house as he thought the gardai would think he went with the intention of stabbing someone.

“I brought the knife as a precaution in case the other guy (John Lawlor) attacked me. I had no intention of using it. I just flipped out,” he said. He also told gardai he had been carrying a knife around with him for a while after he claimed he was attacked with Stanley knives in Dublin several months prior to the stabbings.

He said when he arrived at the house where Ms Cummins was staying with Mr Lawlor, he asked to see Ms Cummins. He said Mr Lawlor and the house owner Michael Fennell were downstairs and Mr Lawlor followed him upstairs to the bedroom where Ms Cummins was.

“Breda was sitting on the bed crying I think,” he told gardai. “I had a feeling she wanted to go and I felt she was being pressurised to stay in the house.”

He said Mr Lawlor then came into the room and said something to him and a fight between him and Mr Lawlor broke out.

“Breda intervened. She got the worst of it. I should never have taken the knife,” he said. “I stood up, I think she stood up behind me. I didn't know if she was breaking me and John up or taking his side.

“I thought I had walked into a lion's den and I struck back at Breda with the knife. I thought I caught her in the arm. I didn't mean to. I was trying to keep John away. I just brought the knife as a deterrent,” he continued.

He said he “lost the plot” and it was not his intention to kill anyone. “I felt betrayed. John started on me and she jumped on me as if she was taking his side,” he told gardai.

He said he should not have been there and felt he was being made a fool of and then lashed out.

“John was making shapes at me and I told him to look after her. She would wind me up with phone calls, screaming 'Resue me, rescue me,'. I think it was a game to her,” he said.

“I was seething with rage but I didn't think the severity of the damage was that bad,” he said.

“I didn't mean to kill that girl. I liked her. I have killed the girl and I f**ked up my life now,” he admitted to gardai.

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

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