Tuesday 12 November 2019

Retrial ordered for disabled man (63) jailed for murdering brother

Natasha Reid

A ‘SEVERELY disabled’ Wicklow farmer had his life sentence for murdering his brother quashed and a retrial ordered.

Cecil Tomkins (63) was jailed for life by the Central Criminal Court in April after being found guilty of murdering 66-year-old Walter Tomkins at Cronlea, Shillelagh on July 1, 2010.

The accused, a bachelor with advanced Parkinson's disease, uses a wheelchair and is incapable of independent living.

His trial heard that he told gardai he shot his brother, also a bachelor, in the hallway of their home because the deceased did not follow his mother's burial wishes.

The jury heard that Bella Tomkins was buried with her late husband in Aghowle three days before the shooting, although she had reserved a plot in Gorey and had left a letter outlining her wishes and money to put toward her burial there.

A jury of nine men and three women found him guilty of murder by unanimous decision and he was sentenced to life in prison.

The Court of Criminal Appeal ruled today that the trial judge had not told the jury that premeditation was not necessarily inconsistent with diminished responsibility. It found that this could have left the jury with an erroneous and incomplete view of the law.

His conviction was overturned and a retrial was ordered.

Mr Justice John MacMenamin directed that bail be dealt with by the Central Criminal Court as soon as possible as there was the question of who would take care of Mr Tomkins and where he would he go if granted bail.

Mr Tomkins’ barrister, John O’Kelly, then applied for bail to Mr Justice Paul Carney at the Central Criminal Court.

“He’s very severely disabled and confined to a wheelchair,” said Mr O’Kelly, explaining that his client was not in court.

His appeal had previously heard that his physical condition had deteriorated since the trial and that he is now unable to feed himself.

The State had no objection to bail on the same terms that had been granted before his trial in the spring. They included not having any contact with any prosecution witness in the case and informing the gardai of any changes to his address.

Mr O’Kelly said his client would reside at Bloomfield Nursing Home.

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