Sister tells of family 'heartache' over death


After the sentencing of Michael McDonald for her sister’s murder, June Cummins (32) said the family still could not 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 her last words to Ms Cummins were “I love you, Sis”, and Breda had given her a hug.

Ms Cummins said Breda’s death had affected deeply their mother Barbara, brothers John, Kenny and Jason, and sisters Johanna, Sabrina and Pamela along with Breda’s son (15). The Cumminses lost their sister Hazel in 2002 through natural causes.

Family members wore T-shirts bearing Breda’s photograph on the front and her birth date and death date on the back.

“Breda’s death caused us a lot of heartache and we will never forget her.”

Clinical psychiatrist Alan Byrne gave evidence that he had examined McDonald on several occasions when he admitted himself to the psychiatric unit at Naas General Hospital between 1998 and 2006.

Dr Byrne said psychotic symptoms, which McDonald had displayed at times when he examined him, such as believing he had magical powers to prevent the American and British armies invading Iraq and that the devil had left messages on his voicemail to kill himself, were extremely rare in alcoholics and that McDonald had a mental illness.

Defence counsel Feargal Kavanagh, with instructing solicitor Seán Brown, in his closing speech described the case as “tragic”, as McDonald had been allowed to “fall through the cracks” of the health 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.