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Dublin man who kicked father to death in row over drinking at home found guilty of manslaughter

A sentencing hearing is due to take place on 24 February.

LAST UPDATE | 24 Jan 2020

A MAN WHO kicked his father to death on his 74th birthday after the older man told him he wished he’d never been born has been found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter by a unanimous jury verdict.

The jury of seven women and five men at the Central Criminal Court came to their unanimous decision after six hours and 17 minutes considering their verdict.

The accused man Mark Tims (48) will be taken to the Midlands Prison where he will be held until a sentencing hearing on 24 February. 

Mark Tims had pleaded guilty to manslaughter but not guilty to the murder of his father Anthony ‘Tony’ Tims at the home they shared at Rowlagh Green, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 on 13 July 2018.

Following today’s verdict Justice Tony Hunt thanked the jurors for their attention throughout the trial and exempted them from further service for 12 years. He described it as a “tragic” case for the deceased, his family and also for Mark Tims who, he said, did not set out on that day to kill his father.

The trial has previously heard that a row erupted when Anthony ‘Tony’ Tims returned home from the pub on his 74th birthday and the accused told him he had “cremated” his breakfast that morning and he didn’t want him to cook his breakfast again.

The accused’s then-girlfriend Elizabeth McDonagh told the trial that Anthony Tims “got a bit thick” and told his son he was a “disappointment”, a “bollocks and a dirty waster” and he wished he’d never been born.

She said Mark Tims, who was “in a rage”, assaulted his father and kicked him while the older man lay on the ground. In garda interviews Mark Tims said his father kept “at me and at me” over drinking cans of Guinness at home. He said he “lost it” and struck his father with a cup and when he fell to the ground he kicked him three times.

Justice Hunt told the jury that they must find the accused guilty of manslaughter and not murder if it was reasonably possible that he was so provoked by his father’s words that he suffered a “sudden and temporary loss of control rendering him so subject to passion as to make him for the moment not master of his mind.”

Evidence in the trial 

Mark Tims’s former partner Elizabeth ‘Lil’ McDonagh witnessed the assault. In her direct evidence she told Michael Delaney SC for the prosecution that she went out with the accused man for about 10 years.

She was also a carer for Anthony Tims who had health problems including a difficulty in breathing. He could walk only short distances and required a wheelchair for longer journeys. She said Anthony Tims had always been good to her and sometimes helped her with her rent.

Mark lived with his father, she said, and both men were “fond of the drink”. She described the relationship between father and son as “like cat and dog”, adding that they often argued.

On the morning before Anthony Tims died, McDonagh went to Rowlagh Green to cook breakfast for the two men but Anthony Tims had already cooked it. Mark complained that the food was burnt and he wouldn’t eat it. “He had a bad attitude,” she said.

That afternoon she went shopping with Anthony Tims and he went to Finche’s pub in Clondalkin to celebrate his 74th birthday. Mark Tims spent the day at home drinking cans of Guinness and playing Playstation games in his room.

Anthony Tims returned home at about 8pm and told McDonagh he had a “great day in the bookies” and that people in the pub had bought him drinks for his birthday.

She said Mark made a joke about his breakfast being “cremated” and, “out of the blue”, Anthony told him to get out of the house and threatened to call the guards. She also told defence counsel Vincent Heneghan SC that the older man called his son a disappointment and a “bollocks and a dirty waster” and told him: “I wish you were never born.”

She said: “Mark just jumped out of the chair and headlocked him and gave him two digs to the face and he fell to the ground.” She described Mark kicking his father in the chest and head and added: “I was begging him to stop but he wouldn’t stop.”

McDonagh’s version of events differed to that given by the accused in his garda interviews.

Heneghan said a “big dispute” was over McDonagh’s claim that she went next door for help and when she returned she saw the accused come downstairs having retrieved his jacket and return to the kitchen to kick his father again.

Heneghan 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. He also pointed to CCTV evidence from a nearby house that he said showed Mark Tims was already on his way down the street when McDonagh was on the phone to emergency services.

In Mark Tims’s garda interviews he said his father was “at me and at me” and he could feel 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.”

He said he “lost it” and swung a cup he was holding at his dad’s head, a blow that caused a cut above his father’s eye. When his father fell to the floor Tims said he kicked him three times using “full force” before thinking: “What the fuck am I doing.” He said he left the house on his bike, met an old friend, bought cider, beer and vodka in an off-licence and spent almost 24 hours drinking in a green area by Ballyowen Lane in Lucan.

In his speech to the jury Heneghan described the deceased as a “controlling, domineering person” and that the behaviour on the night in question had happened not once but “possibly over a life-time”. He said there was a “build-up, an animosity” between the two men and that his client was provoked by his father’s words.

Justice Tony Hunt told the jury that provocation arises in murder trials where something that is said or done by the deceased causes the accused to have a, “sudden and temporary loss of control rendering him so subject to passion as to make him for the moment not master of his mind.”

Prosecution counsel Michael Delaney SC said the deceased 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.”