Wicklow farmer Cecil Tomkins sentenced to life for murdering his brother

Monday 23 April 2012 22.14
Cecil Tompkins shot his brother in July 2010
Cecil Tompkins shot his brother in July 2010

A Co Wicklow farmer has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his older brother.

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

The bachelor, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, told gardaí that he shot Walter in the hallway of the house they shared because he did not follow his mother's burial wishes.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Khalid Jabbar gave evidence during the trial that Walter Tomkins died from a single shotgun wound to the chest.

Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan refused bail for an appeal.

The two men lived all their lives on the family farm at Cronlea, Shillelagh.

Their other brother Charles married and lived locally but Cecil and Walter were bachelors.

The men’s father died in 1999 and was buried locally in Aghowle in Co Wicklow.

However, their mother Isabella said that when she died she wanted to be buried with her family in Gorey, Co Wexford, and not with her husband.

The trial heard their mother had been buried three days before the shooting.

"There was a row. My mother wanted to be buried in Kilcormac or Gorey but she was buried in Aghowle. I shot Walter because he buried her in Aghowle," Cecil Tompkins said.

The court heard Cecil drove the tractor up to the field where his nephew was working and told him he had shot Walter and he was groaning.

By the time the emergency services were called, Walter Tompkins was dead.

A shotgun was recovered and live rounds of ammunition were found in a box and on the floor of Cecil's room.

Prosecuting counsel told the jury that two months later, older brother Charles Tomkins was cleaning out Walter's room and found an envelope under the wardrobe with his mother's writing on it.

It said: "The money in this envelope is to pay for the grave in Gorey. I am to be buried in Gorey. Bella.”

Charles said there was no money in the envelope.

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

Under cross-examination, Cecil Tomkins agreed his 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.

Cecil told the psychiatrist he remembered his parents having rows and although they lived together, they led separate lives. He would not disclose the nature of these rows, as he said he wanted to keep it private.

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