Breda Cummins murder trial continues with shocking details

The last few days of the trial of Michael McDonald for the murder of Athy woman Breda Cummins have heard distressing evidence of the crime and the days and hours leading up to and after her death.

The last few days of the trial of Michael McDonald for the murder of Athy woman Breda Cummins have heard distressing evidence of the crime and the days and hours leading up to and after her death.

Michael McDonald (51) of Barnhill, Castledermot has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Ms. Cummins on May 13, 2010 at Michael Dooley Terrace, Athy.

He has further pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm to John Lawlor (44) of Pearse Terrace, Castledermot at Michael Dooley Terrace on the same date.

Last Thursday, November 8, was day three of the trial, and featured evidence from a friend of Mr. McDonagh who told the Central Criminal Court jury that the accused called to his house on the night, admitted what he had done and looked to a picture of the Scared Heart on the wall, blessed himself and said “forgive me for what I have done.”

Martin Byrne of Towns Park in Athy gave evidence on day three of the trial of Michael McDonald who is accused of murdering Breda Cummins in a house in Athy. He told prosecuting counsel Mr John Alymer, SC, at around 12.50am on May 13, 2010, McDonald knocked on his front door and he invited him in.

“He looked calm and casual but white in the face. He didn’t sit down for a while and then he said he is after doing something terribly stupid and wrong – that he had stabbed two people. He never mentioned names at first then he said ‘Froggie and Breda.’ I didn’t know them,” said Mr Byrne.

Mr Byrne said McDonald told him he had a couple of cans at home after his dinner and that ‘Froggie’ (John Lawlor) and Ms. Cummins had bee ringing and texting him all day.

“He said he got pissed off with the phone calls and texts and said he got a knife and walked out of his house to go to Michael Fennell’s house,” said Mr Byrne.

Mr Byrne told counsel McDonald then told him he boxed Michael Fennell in the face, stabbed Mr Lawlor in the hand and then went upstairs and stuck the knife in Ms. Cummins’ heart saying ‘now you bastard, you won’t ring or text me anymore.’

“He told me she was dead in the bed in the house and he said he got the knife from his home. He said he got pissed off,” he said.

“He then asked me had I any drugs going like heroin or weed and I told him I don’t do that,” said Mr Byrne.

Mr Byrne said McDonald had told him he had “felt terrible” and had brought shame on his life.

He said when McDonald left his house two hours later in a taxi, he turned to Mr Byrne and said “God bless ye, ye might not see me any more after tonight. Don’t do stupid things like I did. I’m going to pay for it now.”

Under cross-examining by defence counsel Mr Fergal Kavanagh, SC, Mr Byrne agreed that it wasn’t long after McDonald sat down in his house that he started to say a prayer.

Mr Byrne said he “didn’t believe” McDonald when he told him he had stabbed two people. “I felt sorry for him. I didn’t believe him and I just listened to him.”

“He had no blood on him, he was clean, and he was alright. I wasn’t afraid of him and I offered him a room to stay the night. I just didn’t believe him because who would walk in to someone’s house and say they stabbed people?” said Mr Byrne.

He said he called Gardai the following morning when he had heard of the stabbing of Ms. Cummins and Mr Lawlor.

When it was put to him by Mr Kavanagh that he told Gardai McDonald was “off his head” he said he meant McDonald “had to be off his head” to do what he had done.

He said McDonald kept looking at the picture of The Scared Heart which was hanging in Mr Byrne’s sitting room, saying he was ashamed of himself and blessing himself.

He said a taxi came to bring McDonald to Newbridge but the taxi ended up bringing him back to his house in Castledermot.

Ms. Martina Hickey, another friend of the accused, said McDonald had called to her house in Carbury Park on the night of the stabbings but that she did not let him in as he had phoned her earlier in the day and he appeared to have been drinking.

“I had my grandson and daughter in the house and it was late at night so I didn’t let him in,” said Ms Hickey.

She said earlier in the evening McDonald had phoned her wanting to get a taxi to Athy. 

Under cross-examining by defence counsel she agreed that he may have been looking for a number for a taxi from Athy to Castledermot to bring Ms. Cummins to his home.

“In my own mind he was looking for Breda,” she said.

A brown handled kitchen knife was found in her front garden the following morning. She told the court the knife did not belong to her and that she did not give anyone permission to put it into her garden.

On Day Four of the trial, last Friday, November 9, the jury heard evidence of Mr. McDonald’s account to Gardai of the death of his former partner.

Michael McDonald initially thought he had only stabbed Breda Cummins in the arm and had not intended to kill her.

Initial interviews with McDonald which were taken by Gardai the day after her death were read out to the jury at the Central Criminal Court.

“I said to her I love you and then stabbed her repeatedly. She was in fear of me. I lost the plot. I was in a rage. I said f*ck you bitch, you messed up my life,” he said to Gardai in his interview. It was day four of the trial.

He told Gardai  Ms. Cummins was looking at him as he stabbed her and her last word was ‘Michael.’

He said he stopped stabbing Ms. Cummins because she was dead. “I was hoping she wasn’t but I was hoping against hope.”

He said he did not mean to kill Ms. Cummins, with whom he had a five year relationship with.

They had gotten engaged on Valentine’s Day, three months prior to her death. He admitted the couple had quite a tempestuous relationship but that he did love her.

He said he had tried to get Ms. Cummins help for her alcoholism and that she could be quite aggressive when she was drunk.

He said they had split up following a row that March and she started going out with John Lawlor.

He felt Mr. Lawlor “took advantage of her when she was vulnerable,” and he went to the house where she was staying to “rescue” her as she told him earlier in the evening she wanted to go back to his house in Castledermot.

He told Gardai he had consumed a flagon and a half of Devil’s Bit cider that evening and took two Dalmane sleeping tablets along with two Valium. 

He said the night was “all a bit of a daze” and that he wasn’t sure if Ms. Cummins had phoned him or he had phoned her but that he did remember she wanted to get out of the house and go to his house.

He said he initially lied to Gardai that he did not bring a knife to the house as he thought the Gardai would think he went with the intention of stabbing someone.

“I brought the knife as a precaution in case the other guy (John Lawlor) attacked me. I had no intention of using it. I just flipped out,” he said. He also told Gardai he had been carrying a knife around with him for a while after he claimed he was attacked with Stanley knives in Dublin several months prior to the stabbings.

He said when he arrived at the house where Ms. Cummins was staying with Mr Lawlor, he  asked to see Ms. Cummins. He said Mr Lawlor and the house owner Michael Fennell were downstairs and Mr Lawlor followed him upstairs to the bedroom where Ms. Cummins was.

“Breda was sitting on the bed crying I think,” he told Gardai. “I had a feeling she wanted to go and I felt she was being pressurised to stay in the house.”

He said Mr Lawlor then came into the room and said something to him and a fight between him and Mr Lawlor broke out.

“Breda intervened. She got the worst of it. I should never have taken the knife,” he said. “I stood up, I think she stood up behind me. I didn’t know if she was breaking me and John up or taking his side. 

“I thought I had walked into a lion’s den and I struck back at Breda with the knife. I thought I caught her in the arm. I didn’t mean to. I was trying to keep John away. I just brought the knife as a deterrent,” he continued.

He said he “lost the plot” and it was not his intention to kill anyone. “I felt betrayed. John started on me and she jumped on me as if she was taking his side,” he told Gardai.

He said he should not have been there and felt he was being made a fool of and then lashed out.

“John was making shapes at me and I told him to look after her. She would wind me up with phone calls, screaming ‘Resue me, rescue me,’. I think it was a game to her,” he said.

“I was seething with rage but I didn’t think the severity of the damage was that bad,” he said.

“I didn’t mean to kill that girl. I liked her. I have killed the girl and I f*cked up my life now,” he admitted to Gardai.

Yesterday, Monday, heard evidence of phone records between mobile phones of the victim and the accused.

Garda Patrick Robins has told prosecuting counsel Mr John Alymer, SC, that he examined phone calls made to and from both hand sets after he received records from Meteor mobile phone company.

He noted from the records that Breda Cummins had made four phone calls to the accused Michael McDonald’s phone on May 5, 2010 - which was the last time there was any outgoing calls made by Ms. Cummins to McDonald’s phone.

It was day five of the trial of Michael McDonald (51) of Barnhill, Castledermot who has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Ms. Cummins on May 13, 2010 at Michael Dooley Terrace, Athy.

He has further pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm to John Lawlor (44) of Pearse Terrace, Castledermot at Michael Dooley Terrace on the same date.

McDonald has admitted to the manslaughter of the 31-year-old but this plea has not been accepted by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Gda Robins said he analysed incoming calls to Ms. Cummins’ phone on May 12, 2010, the day prior to her death and said it showed 13 phone calls made from McDonald’s mobile phone to her phone lasting between ten seconds and 275 seconds.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel Fergal Kavanagh, SC, Garda Robins said he could not confirm whether GPRS which was located a number of times on the phone records of Ms. Cummins on May 12, 2010 were for free Call me text messages to Mr McDonald’s handset.

“There is a series of GPRS around the time Mr McDonald was making calls to the deceased,” stated Mr Kavanagh. “Can you tell whether these are Call me text messages?”

Garda Robins said to his knowledge of the phone records this was when the phone accessed the internet.

He said he did not know the code for Call me text messages but that he could confirm that the connections were made according to the records.

Detective Garda Christine Brady who examined the phones using XRY software for mobile phones and sim cards confirmed to prosecuting counsel that a text message was sent from McDonald’s mobile phone to Ms. Cummins in April 2010, a month prior to her death, stating “Good luck to you and John. Hope you will be happy.”

A further text was sent to Ms. Cummins from McDonald’s phone on April 8, 2010 said “Birds of a feather. Adios amigo.”