Life sentence for Kildare man found guilty of murder of Athy mother

A Kildare man who stabbed his ex-partner six times in the chest in what has been described as a “shocking, sad and outrageous death” by the presiding judge, has been handed a mandatory life sentence after he was found guilty by a jury at the Central Criminal Court.

A Kildare man who stabbed his ex-partner six times in the chest in what has been described as a “shocking, sad and outrageous death” by the presiding judge, has been handed a mandatory life sentence after he was found guilty by a jury at the Central Criminal Court.

Michael McDonald was also found guilty of assault causing harm to John Lawlor (44) and is to be sentenced on this at a later date pending a victim impact report.

The jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty on both counts after two hours and 41 minutes of deliberations. McDonald did not show any reaction when the verdicts were read out.

McDonald (51) of Barnhill, Castledermot had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Ms Breda Cummins on May 13, 2010 at Michael Dooley Terrace, Athy. He had pleaded guilty on arraignment to the manslaughter of the mother-of-one but this plea was not accepted by the Director of Public Prosecutions. McDonald further pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm to John Lawlor (44) of Pearse Terrace, Castledermot at the same address on the same date.

McDonald, who has been diagnosed with Alcohol Dependency Syndrome and Schitzoaffective Disorder by a clinical psychiatrist and had been prescribed anti-psychotic drugs at the age of 16, had previously been in a five year relationship with Ms Cummins, who was also an alcoholic.

He had told gardai it was a “tempestous relationship.”

Clinical psychiatrist Dr Alan Byrne gave evidence that he had examined McDonald on a number of occasions when he admitted himself to the psychiatric unit at Naas General Hospital between 1998 and 2006 where he reported psychotic symptoms in the 51-year-old.

Ms June Cummins (32), a sister of Breda said, after the sentencing of McDonald, that her whole family still cannot believe Breda had died “in such a cruel way.”

Ms Cummins, who was the last of her family members to see Breda the day before her death, said Breda had a “good heart” and Breda’s last words to her were “I love you sis” and Breda had given her a hug.

Ms Cummins said Breda’s death has affected deeply their mother Barbara, brothers John, Kenny and Jason and sisters Johanna, Sabrina and Pamela along with Breda’s 15-year-old son. The Cummins lost their sister Hazel in 2002 through natural causes. Family members wore t-shirts bearing Breda’s photograph and on the back displayed Breda’s birth date and death date.

“Breda’s death caused us a lot of heartache and we will never forget her. Breda was a loving, caring person and had a great heart and didn’t deserve what happened to her. We are delighted now we have got justice for my sister’s death. She can rest in peace now with our other sister Hazel,” said Ms Cummins.

Defence counsel Mr Feargal Kavanagh, SC, with instructing solicitor Sean Brown, in his closing speech, described the case as a “tragic case” as McDonald had been allowed to “fall through the cracks” of the health service system despite his numerous cries for help over the years.

“He was never involuntarily committed when he went for help and discharged himself several times and didn’t get the treatment he required,” said Mr Kavanagh.

Ms Justice O’Malley thanked the jury for their care and attention in what she said was “a sad case to listen to” and excused them from jury duty for seven years.