Application to withdraw murder-guilt plea ‘breath-taking’

Kenneth Cummins (28) had pleaded not guilty to murder but changed plea mid-trial

Kenneth Cummins (28), with an address at Ringsend Park, Dublin 4, pleaded not guilty to the murder of Thomas Horan (63)  initially, but four weeks into the trial he changed his plea to guilty. On Friday morning, Giollaiosa O Lideadha SC told the judge he had been instructed to have his client’s plea of guilty vacated as he was not in a fit state to make the plea on November 11th. File photograph: Collins Courts

Kenneth Cummins (28), with an address at Ringsend Park, Dublin 4, pleaded not guilty to the murder of Thomas Horan (63) initially, but four weeks into the trial he changed his plea to guilty. On Friday morning, Giollaiosa O Lideadha SC told the judge he had been instructed to have his client’s plea of guilty vacated as he was not in a fit state to make the plea on November 11th. File photograph: Collins Courts

 

A Dublin man has made a “breath-taking” application to withdraw his guilty plea for murdering a “mentally challenged” 63-year-old man while his co-accused sister has been handed down a life sentence.

Sabrina Cummins (37), with an address at Ringsend Park, Dublin 4, pleaded not guilty to murdering Thomas Horan (63) at Cambridge Court, Ringsend on January 6th last year but last Tuesday, after a period of five hours deliberating, a jury of six men and six women brought in a unanimous verdict of guilty at the Central Criminal Court.

Changed plea

Kenneth Cummins (28), also with an address at Ringsend Park, Dublin 4, pleaded not guilty to the charge initially but four weeks into the trial he changed his plea to guilty.

On Friday morning, Giollaiosa O Lideadha SC told the judge he had been instructed to have his client’s plea of guilty vacated as he was not in a fit state to make the plea on November 11th.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt asked Mr O Lideadha “where would they go from here?” on the assumption the application is successful.

Mr O Lideadha said if the plea was vacated, Mr Cummins would have to be put on trial again.

“This was a man who couldn’t wait to get out of the building, and now he wants to come back,” said Mr Justice Hunt.

“He wants a retrial and if it was possible to reconstitute the jury,” replied Mr O Lideadha.

Prosecution counsel Remy Farrell SC said this application was “breath-taking” and no more than “a stroke” by Mr Cummins.

Mr Farrell said Mr Cummins wanted an opportunity to run the trial again without his co-accused, and he opposed it.

‘Remarkable application’

Mr Justice Hunt says it was a “remarkable application” in the circumstances, and Mr Cummins will be “pushing a rock up a hill - but we will see where it goes”.

The court then proceeded with the sentencing of Sabrina Cummins, who was handed a life sentence for the murder of Thomas Horan. The sentence was backdated to January 8th, 2014.

The judge said he would hear victim impact statements in case Mr Cummins is unsuccessful.

The application for Kenneth Cummins will be dealt with on Monday, December 7th, at 10.30am.

Two victim impact statements were read to the court by prosecution counsel Mr Farrell.

The first was from Margaret Horan, Thomas Horan’s estranged wife.

The court heard she now lives in a nursing home, a place she feels she would not be in if “Tommy” was still alive. Counsel also read how she “dreams” about him all the time.

Mr Farrell then read a second victim impact statement written by Thomas Horan’s brother-in-law, Jim Muldoon.

The court heard as a family they had known Thomas Horan since the 1970s and it was through their sister Marge that they got to know him.

The court heard Tom and Marge separated in 2000. They were never legally separated, but decided they no longer wanted to live together.

‘Never broke contact’

“As Marge said, they wanted different lives, but they never broke contact,” he read.

Mr Justice Hunt said this was a difficult and depressing case, with a number of upsetting features.

“This man did not die an easy death and there is no comfort to be had in that. This man had the life strangled and ultimately poisoned out of him. This man was subjected to restraint from more than one person,” he said.

He described Sabrina Cummins as “a murderer and a brazen hard-nosed liar”.

He said he had “rarely come across a case where evidence is so solid”.

It was the prosecution’s case that brother and sister Kenneth and Sabrina Cummins murdered the man in an attempt to cover up a robbery.

Outlining the case, Mr Farrell said the jury would hear evidence that Mr Horan was “severely beaten”, had a rope placed around his neck, a bag placed over his head and that there was an “attempt to poison him” with cleaning fluids.