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Brother in mum burial row death claims dementia

THE trial of a farmer who denies murdering his brother in a row over his mother's burial wishes has heard dementia impaired his judgment.

Cecil Tomkins (63), of New Lodge Nursing Home, Stocking Lane, Rathfarnham, in Dublin, has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering Walter Tomkins (66) at Cronlea, Shillelagh, on July 1, 2010.

The bachelor, who suffers from Parkinson's syndrome, told gardai he shot Walter, who was also a bachelor, in the hallway of the house they shared because he had not followed his mother's burial wishes.

The trial has heard their mother, Bella Tomkins, had been buried locally, just days before on June 28, in Aghowle, with her late husband.


Her original wish was to be buried with family in Kilcormac, Co Wexford, but the court was told she had later reserved a plot in Gorey in 2001 and left a letter outlining her wishes, and money in an envelope for her burial.

Consultant psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital Dr Paul O Connell told the court it was his opinion the accused has dementia which impaired his judgment and that a defence of diminished responsibility is available.

He told John O'Kelly, defending, a defence of insanity may be possible but it is difficult to establish because he did not speak to the accused closer to the time of the incident.

Under cross-examination by Dominic McGinn, prosecuting, he agreed that the accused's mental health would not be the same in 2012 as it was in 2010, but said it was his concern he would have been suffering substantial effects of his dementia. Dr O'Connell told Mr McGinn he did not see evidence of impulsivity in the accused.


Dr O'Connell told the court he reviewed the accused on February 1, 2012, and he had been instructed that he had been charged with the murder of his brother Walter.

The accused told him he remembered his parents having rows and although they lived together, they led separate lives. He would not disclose the nature of these rows.

He told Dr O'Connell he left school when he was 14, that he inherited 50 acres of land and that he had never had a relationship.

Dr O'Connell said the accused had no psychiatric history, no previous convictions and he told him he would drink the odd time but had never been drunk.

He said the accused told him a dispute started over where his mother was to be buried and said he supposed he had overreacted.

"I got the gun and shot him. I regretted it the moment I did it," the accused told the psychiatrist.

The accused told him he went to tell his nephew what had happened and when he got back his brother was dead.

Dr Maria Murphy told Mr O'Kelly that the accused first came to her in 2006 but his final diagnosis was only formalised in May or June 2010 while he was at Tallaght Hospital.

She agreed with Mr McGinn under cross-examination that there were no signs of the accused being assaulted.

Professor Ciaran Regan said he was provided with a list of medication he was on and one of these was called Stalevo to treat Parkinson's.

He told the Mr O'Kelly that the accused had recently been switched recently from a different drug but he said he would be surprised if something unusual happened.

The trial is now in its closing stages.