Sunday 19 January 2020

Elderly farmer in court over gun death of brother

Don Lavery and Stephen Dunne

THE brother of the man shot dead in Co Wicklow last week appeared in court yesterday charged in connection with his death.

Cecil Tomkins, the 62-year-old brother of Walter Tomkins, did not speak during the short hearing at a special sitting of Baltinglass District Court, Co Wicklow..

Mr Tomkins arrived in court, assisted by gardai, on two walking sticks.

Defence solicitor Maeve Breen told the court her client had been suffering from Parkinson's Disease for six years.

An application for free legal aid was also made, and Judge Gerard Furlong remanded Mr Tomkins, of Cronelea, Shilleagh, Co Wicklow, in custody until next Tuesday .

Mr Tomkins was dressed in a grey, blue and black T-shirt with a pair of blue tracksuit bottoms during the brief hearing.

He looked tired and frail as he faced a charge of assault causing harm to his 66-year-old brother Walter, at the same address, last Thursday.

The accused man's solicitor also requested that medical assistance be provided during the term of his custody. This was assured by the judge.

Gardai arrested Mr Tomkins in the family home after responding to reports of gunshots in the rural village of Shillelagh.

When they arrived at the farmhouse at Cronelea, gardai discovered the body of Walter Tomkins.

The brothers' mother, Isabella Tomkins, 93, died last weekend and was buried on Monday in the churchyard of St Michael's in Aghold, close to the picturesque village of Shillelagh. Today, Walter will buried beside her in the same churchyard plot.

His funeral will take place this afternoon from St Michael's Church, Aghold.

The Tomkins family are originally from Camolin, north Co Wexford, and moved to the Shillelagh area some 40 years ago.

The deceased is said to have been a quiet man who cared for his ill mother in the final days of her life.

He routinely visited the local public house, the Park View, to bring home plates of food for his elderly mother.

Locals remain shocked by last week's events and expressed disbelief that an incident like this could happen in such a quiet area.

Church of Ireland clergyman Canon Mervyn McCullough said the entire community was deeply shocked and saddened by the family tragedy.

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

The brothers had worked together on their farm and as contractors on neighbouring farms. Neighbours said the Tomkins were a "quiet family" who were well liked in the area.

Walter Tomkins was known for his enthusiasm for vintage tractors and regularly took part in rallies in aid of good causes.

"There is shock in the area that something like this could happen so soon after the death of his mother," one local said.

A post-mortem examination was carried out later in the week at Naas general hospital before his body was released for burial.

Sunday Independent

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