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Tuesday 11 December 2018

Farmer had 'gaping wounds' when found slumped in car - jury in murder trial hears

Michael Ferris pictured at Tralee Court House. The Kerry farmer is charged with the murder of neighbouring landowner Anthony O'Mahony. Photo By Domnick Walsh
Michael Ferris pictured at Tralee Court House. The Kerry farmer is charged with the murder of neighbouring landowner Anthony O'Mahony. Photo By Domnick Walsh

Anne Lucey

A 73-year-old Kerry tillage farmer died from “polytrauma” with "total evulsion of the heart and liver" due to multiple penetrating wounds, State Pathologist Margot Bolster told a jury of seven men and five women in the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee where a neighbouring farmer is being tried for his murder.

Michael Ferris (63), of Rattoo, Ballyduff, Co Kerry, has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court in Tralee to the murder of John Anthony O’Mahony aged 73, or Ardoughter  Balluduff, at Rattoo on April 4, 2017.

Dr Margot Bolster spent up to an hour at the Central Criminal Court in Tralee on Thursday afternoon listing the injuries including “gaping” and penetrating wounds on the body of Anthony O’Mahony of Ardoughter, as the result of what she said were injuries consistent with being inflicted by the prongs of a teleporter.

On April 4, accompanied by Listowel Supt Dan Keane, she visited the scene on the narrow road at Rattoo, which the jury were earlier told leads to a historic ruined abbey and one of the finest round towers in the country.

The body of an elderly man with his seat belt partially around him and his head slumped on his chest, was found in the car, Dr Bolster said.

There was a large amount of broken glass and the dashboard was driven over his legs. A large portion of his bowel could be seen protruding from his shirt. The seat belt had been torn, Dr Bolster said.

There was a large gaping hole in the windscreen, two gaping holes on the roof and another on the side of the bonnet, the court heard, while the left door was partially driven in and the back door of the car pushed out.

The court also heard that there was a double barrel shotgun, unloaded, with cartridges found in the boot of the car.

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Further down the road was a teleporter with two prongs sticking out and there was blood and smearing on both prongs.

'Gaping wounds'

On removal of the body, the lacerated liver could be seen at the front well of the driver’s seat, and the lacerated heart was between the side of the door and the driver’s seat. A half set of dentures was under the seat.

The deceased man had multiple injuries and fractures and “gaping wounds”; one of the wounds had gone right through the skull and brain tissue could be seen; there were injuries to the mouth, abrasions to the limbs, multiple fractures of the pelvis, injury to the groin, injury to the lungs.

The pathologist said that there were at least five penetrating wounds, two of the penetrating wounds had gone right through the body, to the back.

At one point Dr Bolster said the liver had been “totally evulsed or torn, totally pulped” and found externally - that is outside the body".

Death would have been immediate, she said in conclusion.

There was evidence of heart disease but this was not a cause of his death.

'Almost spiritual place'

Earlier today, the Tralee court heard from Swiss Irish national Michael Schumacher who gave evidence of how he and his wife had bought the house closest to the ancient Rattoo Tower six years ago. To them this was quiet, tranquil almost spiritual place, as well as having a historic tower an ruined abbey, he agreed with Brendan Grehan, SC

“We like ancient things,” Mr Schumacher said.

The Schumachers would use the holiday home up to six times a year. He described how Michael Ferris was a very quiet man and a good neighbour and how Mr Ferris had arrived at this door to welcome them with a bag of meat.

He also told the court that he would exchange pleasantries with the deceased, Mr O’Mahony.

In August 2016, two minutes after they arrived he and his wife went to the window to look at the round tower, as she always did. There was a sound like a bomb going off. Within three minutes there was another such bang.

This was the crow banger, which had now been placed within metres of the side of their house.

They went to Mr O’Mahony’s house at Ardoughter. It was tea time and he barely opened the door to them and was “not pleasant,” Mr Schumacher said.

However he did move the banger to around 50m further away and although this was not ideal, it was better.

The Schumacher’s tried to thank Mr O’Mahony, but he became so angry, he was red in the face “frothing at the mouth” and they feared he would get a heart attack.

The encounter had upset his wife so much she was sick that evening and had to vomit, Mr Schumacher said.

“I could not get through to him to see how we had a problem with the banger,” Mr Schumacher said at one point.

The trial will continue on Tuesday. The jury has been told not to discuss the trial.

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