Cork gardaí investigate fatal shooting of father of one


Gardaí said last night they were keeping an open mind on the motive for the murder of a 31-year-old father of one who was shot dead as he returned with his partner and child to their home in Co Cork.

Eric Cummins died after being shot a number of times in the upper body by a gunman who approached him as he got out of his car at his rented semi-detached home at Oldcourt, Greenfields, Ballincollig at about 10pm on Saturday.

Mr Cummins, a native of Ophelia Terrace, The Lough, Cork city, had just returned home with his partner, Michelle Cunningham, and their 18-month-old son following a family day out when the gunman approached him and shot him at close range.

According to Garda sources, the gunman had been seen waiting in a parked car with another man in the nearby Fernwalk Estate before getting out of the car and collecting a handgun in some bushes and approaching Mr Cummins as the family returned home.

After shooting Mr Cummins at least twice - once in the chest and once in the head - the gunman walked back to the dark coloured Honda which left the Fernwalk area at high speed and exited on to the Ballincollig bypass.

Mr Cummins - who was working as a plasterer - was known to gardaí and was suspected of involvement in drug dealing but gardaí were remaining tight-lipped about possible motives for the killing. Garda sources said Mr Cummins was suspected of being a major player in the drug scene in Cork with connections in Limerick. They are exploring a number of theories as to why he was shot.

Among the lines of inquiry which gardaí were investigating was whether the killing may have been linked to a suspected drug-related shooting in Cork city some three years ago when a man was seriously wounded.

The then 26-year-old victim was shot in the chest after he was confronted by a man armed with a sawn-off shotgun at around 8.45pm on September 25th, 2002. The victim underwent emergency surgery.

Gardaí believe Mr Cummins was the gunman and the following day his van was torched in an arson attack and he later moved away from Cork, returning some 12 months later when gardaí charged him with a number of offences arising out of the attack.

Mr Cummins was charged with assault causing harm as well as three firearms offences arising out of the shooting but when the case came to trial at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, the injured party never showed up to give evidence and Mr Cummins was acquitted.

He had earlier been convicted at Cork Circuit Criminal Court of assault causing harm to a man he had slashed with a glass in Oliver Plunkett Street but was given a six year suspended sentence after he paid compensation to the injured party.

Yesterday, a team of over 40 gardaí under Supt Tom Hayes, of Gurranabraher, and Det Supt Tony Quilter, of Anglesea Street, began a murder inquiry with detectives carrying out door to door inquiries in the Oldcourt and Fernwalk estates of Ballincollig.

The scene of the shooting and the area where the getaway car had been parked had been sealed off overnight and Garda technical experts carried out a forensic examination of the scene while a ballistics expert recovered some bullet casings for examination.

Garda technical experts also carried out a forensic examination of a car - fitting the description of the vehicle used in the killing - which was found burnt out yesterday morning in the Waterfall area some two miles from the shooting.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster carried out a postmortem on Mr Cummins at Cork University Hospital.

Supt Tom Hayes issued a description of the gunman as being around six feet tall and of athletic build and he appealed to anyone who noticed anything suspicious in the Oldcourt or Fernwalk areas between 6pm and 11pm on Saturday to contact gardaí.