Sunday 21 January 2018

Elderly farmer killed in row over mother's burial

Brendan Farrelly and Shane Hickey

AN ELDERLY farmer was shot dead in his home last night in a dispute following the death of his mother.

The shooting happened at Cronelea, just outside Shillelagh village in Co Wicklow, at about 6.30pm.

The victim, named locally as Walter Tomkins (66), was hit with a blast from a shotgun. He died at the scene.

His death is believed to have followed a dispute over where his 90-year-old mother, Isabella, was buried.

Ms Tomkins' funeral service took place on Monday at St Michael's Church in Aghold before she was buried in the adjoining cemetery.

The shooting is understood to have happened in the hallway of their house. Gardai found a shotgun at the scene.

A man in his 60s was arrested. He was being detained last night at Baltinglass garda station under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.

He can be held for 72 hours after which he has to be charged or released.

It is understood gardai are not looking for anyone else in connection with the death of Mr Tomkins.

Senior officers were last night trying to piece together events leading up to the killing.

It is believed Mr Tomkins was in his home with another man, whom he knew, when the shooting happened.

The state pathologist's office was informed of the death.

A post-mortem was due to be carried out at Naas General Hospital.

Garda reinforcements rushed to the village and sealed off the scene of the tragedy for examination by forensics officers.

The dead man was an unmarried farmer who was well-known in the area.


The shotgun death was the second tragedy to hit the Tomkins family in the last week after the death of Ms Tomkins. She lived in the family home with Walter about a mile outside Shillelagh on the Tullow Road.

The small village of Shillelagh is located close to the Wicklow and Carlow border. It is a scenic location which is popular with hill walkers.

Locals last night were said to be stunned as news of the violent death spread through the tight-knit community.

Mr Tomkins was described as a quiet, decent man. He was an enthusiast 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 told the Irish Independent last night.

Another member of the Tomkins family lives nearby.

The dead man lived with his mother on their 200-acre farm before she was moved to a nursing home. The family are well-known in the local area, especially among the farming community.

A close acquaintance of the family said: "They are an honest, hard-working farming family and contractors.

"They are the best of neighbours, unbelievably helpful to everybody as well as their neighbours. They live for their farming and their work.

"This is a terrible tragedy and as news of it spreads the people are in total shock and disbelief over what has happened."

Irish Independent

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