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Son who kicked father to death was 'provoked' by 'domineering and controlling' man, court hears

Anthony Tims told his son he wished he’d never been born and called him a “disappointment”, the Central Criminal Court was told today.

File photo
File photo
Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

A 48-YEAR-OLD man who kicked his father to death was “provoked” by his “domineering and controlling” father and should be found guilty of manslaughter and not murder, a barrister has told a jury at the Central Criminal Court.

Vincent Heneghan SC, defending, delivered his closing speech to the seven women and five men in the trial of Mark Tims who has pleaded guilty to manslaughter but not guilty to murdering his father, Anthony ‘Tony’ Tims, at the home they shared at Rowlagh Green, Clondalkin, Dublin 22, on 13 July 2018.

His plea was rejected by the State.

Heneghan said Tims Senior’s actions for many years were those of a “controlling domineering person, a dominant person” and that this type of behaviour “continued for Mark Tims’ whole life.”

He reminded the jury that Tims’ then-girlfriend Elizabeth McDonagh described the build-up to the assault, saying the older man came home after celebrating his 74th birthday in the pub and told his son to get out of the house or he would call the guards.

McDonagh said Anthony Tims also told his son he wished he’d never been born and called him a “disappointment”.

Counsel said this type of situation happened not just once but, “possibly over a lifetime” and there was, he said, a “build up, an animosity”. He said it was sad that his client reacted how he did, but urged the jury to find that he was provoked and return a manslaughter verdict.

Heneghan began his closing speech by telling the jury they have a “huge decision” to make. If they agree that Mark Tims was provoked by his father then that reduces his conviction from murder to manslaughter.

He explained that provocation arises if something said or done by the deceased caused the accused to have a “sudden and unforeseen onset of passion” or “loss of control” that meant he was no longer master of his own mind.

Going into the facts of the evening in question, Heneghan said Anthony Tims was in the pub celebrating his 74th birthday and returned home shortly after 8pm. Mark Tims joked to his father that he had burnt his breakfast.

His father’s response, counsel said, was to call his son a “bollocks” and tell him he wished he’d never been born. He told him to get out of the house and threatened to call the guards.

The accused didn’t immediately react, he said, but asked McDonagh for a cup of tea while his father “continued the abuse”. In his garda interviews Tims said he felt his “head boiling” and that when his father “gives you verbal he keeps going and going, right through your head”.

He said his father’s voice would “hit me a bit like thunder and if you weren’t up to his standards he would call you a thick c**t”.

This was, Heneghan said, indicative of, “a domineering father over his son.” A 47-year-old man living with his 74-year-old father couldn’t have been pleasant for either side, he said, adding that “we know his father could be a controlling man.”

He reminded the jury they had heard evidence that Anthony Tims had started seeing another woman while his wife was still alive, even bringing her to the family home. “That’s unusual at least,” he said, adding: “Is that the actions of a controlling, domineering person, a dominant person? I suggest to you that it is.”

‘Love/hate relationship’ 

He reminded them that the accused told gardaí his father’s words hurt him and his mind “went down” and he “went back over the years, if my father had a bad day I had a bad day”. While Mark still loved his father, whom he described as looking like singer Kenny Rogers at one point, they had a “love/hate” relationship, Heneghan said.

As the “abuse” continued, Heneghan said his client stood up and brought his teacup down on his father’s head, delivering a “serious blow” that left a cut above his father’s right eye. Gardaí would later find the shattered remains of the cup on the ground.

McDonagh said Mark Tims put his father in a headlock, but Heneghan said this can’t be true as State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan found no bruises on the deceased’s neck despite saying that a man his age would bruise easily.

Following the blow with the cup, Anthony Tims fell to the ground and Mark Tims kicked him, causing the injuries that led to his death. “He doesn’t shirk from that,” Heneghan said, adding that he accepts he used force in his kicks and with the cup and wanted to cause serious harm to his father. However, counsel said his client was provoked and had lost all self control.

A “big dispute” in the case, Heneghan said, is that Mr Tims told gardaí that following the assault he took his medication from the fridge and left the house whereas McDonagh said he went upstairs to get his jacket while she went to a neighbour for help and to phone an ambulance.

She said that when she returned she saw the accused go back to the kitchen and kick his father again before leaving. Counsel said McDonagh’s version was not borne out by the evidence, in particular that of the two neighbours who followed McDonagh and said the accused man was already gone at that point. Counsel further stated that CCTV evidence from a nearby house showed that Tims was already on his way down the street when McDonagh was on the phone to emergency services.

In his garda interviews Tims was, counsel said, “polite, respectful, didn’t give any trouble and didn’t rely on his right to silence but answered each and every question put to him in every interview”.

Heneghan further stated that Tims maintained the same story throughout his four interviews and his version of events was borne out by mobile phone and CCTV evidence. He added: “He never once tried to hide from what he had done.”

Urging the jury to return a manslaughter verdict, Heneghan concluded: “Take all the time you need and look at all the evidence you need to look at. Examine it in detail. Mark Tims has nothing to fear from the evidence in this case when you analyze it and break it down.”

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‘Not a recipe for harmony’ 

Michael Delaney SC, prosecuting, told the jury the deceased had worked hard all his life and while he wasn’t a perfect father or husband, he had “earned the right to some peace and quiet in his own house in his retirement.”

He didn’t get that, counsel said, adding: “Having a 47-year-old man living with his 74-year-old father is probably not a recipe for harmony.” Delaney said there was no benefit to Anthony Tims in this living arrangement while the accused man seemed to expect other people to cook for him and make his tea.

He also, Delaney said, drank cans of beer at home and left them lying around, something his father found irritating as he liked to keep things in an “orderly fashion”. It wasn’t enough, Delaney said, that his father put a roof over his head but Mark Tims also expected his father to support him financially, occasionally giving him €50 and giving him €1,000 once a year.

While he said the accused might say that he was the victim of a bullying and abusive father, counsel told the jury they only have his word for that. While that may have been the way when Mark Tims was a young man, Delaney suggested that as Anthony Tims grew older and more frail “the shoe was on the other foot”.

He also asked the jury to consider whether the deceased’s demand that his son leave the house was justified, given the “dynamic”.

While these things provide the background to this “tragic event”, Delaney said the facts show that “Mark Tims carried out a serious assault on an elderly and frail man who wasn’t able to defend himself”.

Counsel reminded the jury of the evidence of Dr Linda Mulligan who said the older Tims suffered extensive blunt force trauma to the head and trunk. “Considerable force” was used during the assault, he said, and the accused repeatedly kicked his father who was lying on the ground.

He said McDonagh was “clear” in her evidence that she saw the accused return to the kitchen after the initial assault and kick his father again a number of times.

Addressing the defence’s claim of provocation, he said that if he did come back down the stairs and kick his father again, “you may view that as being inconsistent with the total loss of self-control because there was a break there for him to calm down and yet he comes back and continues the assault”. 

He also asked them to consider the accused man’s “calm demeanour” on CCTV at an off licence where he bought vodka, beer and cider less than one hour after the fatal assault.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt told the jury that they will begin their deliberations tomorrow.

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Eoin Reynolds

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