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Friday 14 December 2018

'He was abandoned' - garda tells 'teleporter murder' trial of victim's 'catastrophic injuries' at scene

Kerry farmer Michael Ferris is charged with the murder of neighbouring landowner Anthony O'Mahony. Photo By Domnick Walsh
Kerry farmer Michael Ferris is charged with the murder of neighbouring landowner Anthony O'Mahony. Photo By Domnick Walsh

Anne Lucey

Gardai who arrived at a quiet country road the morning of the alleged murder of 73-year-old tillage farmer Anthony O’Mahony have described coming across "an alarming" scene on the quiet country road to the historic Rattoo Tower and of finding a car and the driver with his seat belt on with “catastrophic, horrific injuries – and no-one about.

Ditches had been torn up on either side. There was debris along the road from the blue Peugeot 508 car for a distance of between 50 to 70 ft.

The man the gardai later identified as Anthony O’Mahony was “deceased and had been abandoned” the first garda witness said.

Michael Ferris, of Rattoo, Ballyduff, Co Kerry, aged 63, has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Tralee to the murder of John Anthony O’Mahony aged 73, at Rattoo on April 4 2017. A jury of five women and seven men have been sworn in.

Listowel garda Pat Naughton, a member in the patrol car, received a call from the control centre at 8.30 am that there had been a collision between a teleporter and a car and a man might be trapped there. The garda patrol arrived at Rattoo at 8.41am.

There was a car on the right hand side of the road and debris in front of it.

The car was very badly damaged with several puncture marks, including on the bonnet and through the windscreen.

“A lone male was sitting in the driver's seat with his seat belt on. He had catastrophic injuries. They were horrific injuries, absolutely horrific injuries to his upper body, to his face, to his skull. They were absolutely horrific,” Garda Naughton replied to Patrick McGrath, SC for the prosecution.

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

Earth and grass had been pulled up along the narrow road and there was damage to the ditches left and right side of the road towards the Ferris’ house. There was no one else about.

“That was the alarming thing. There was no one there, not one to tell us what happened," the garda said.

He walked down the road 50-60m and observed a yellow New Holland teleporter at the entrance to a milking parker. It had been backed in off the road. The door going into the cab was missing off it. On the front fork there was blood and possibly tissue and glass and paint of the left fork.

It was his belief the teleporter had made contact with the car and the car had been pushed by force by the machine up the road.

“You must remember that when we got there the man we now know as Anthony O’Mahony was deceased and when we got there, there was no one there. This man was deceased. He was abandoned,” Garda Naughton answered Brendan Grehan, SC, for the defence.

The driver of the garda patrol car, Garda Alan Crowley, said  said there were repeated intrusions into the blue Peugeot. Debris was on the road in front of the car for a distance of between 50 and 70 ft with evidence of contact between the vehicle and ditches at several locations.

It appeared to him the intrusions were intentional, rather than accidental.

Earlier the trial heard from the nephew of the dead man, James O’Mahony.

James identified the body of his late uncle. He said of his uncle, Anthony O’Mahony, who as well as farming in Rattoo, in partnership with the witness' father Seamus, O'Mahony owned a further two farms.

“He was passionate about growing the crops. That was solely why he used the banger,” James said.

He said all farmers, not just tillage farmers used bangers.

“The sole intention was to frighten away crows,” James insisted under cross examination by Brendan Grehan. Mr Grehan had asked him why the crow banger had been placed against the  and near a wall where it reverberated loudly and in places where people lived.

The trial has also heard from the brother of the accused man Michael Ferris.

Paddy Ferris, (61) younger brother of the accused told how he and his brother managed the 90-acre farm together effectively in a partnership way, they had different jobs on the farm and Paddy looked after the milking of the 40 cows. 

The land was a bit scattered and Michael would drive the cows into the parlour and use his teleporter to stop them getting out onto the road.

Paddy spoke to Anthony O’Mahony, small talk, he said, when he met Anthony. He was aware neighbours of Michael did not get on with the deceased over a banger.

Asked by Patrick McGrath SC if the banger was a constant feature with 20 years, Paddy Ferris said it was.

Paddy himself did not like the idea of the banger going off and had told Anthony O’Mahony “but it was to no avail,” he told Mr McGrath.

He agreed he had said in his statement to gardai, Mr O’Mahony could be “awkward".

On the morning in question, brothers Paddy and Michael got up at 7am as was normal that time of year. They had breakfast and there was no discussion about Mr Mahony, Paddy said.

When gardai called Paddy was milking 40 cows and they asked about the teleporter.

He also said that his brother Michael would get very little sleep because of the banger.

“It had an awful effect on him,” Paddy Ferris  said.

Michael was complaining that morning he had a bad back and would have to go to the doctor to get deep heat.

Cross examined by Brendan Grehan SC, Paddy Ferris said in recent times the crow banger had been moved up nearer the houses on the lane.

Paddy said it to the deceased once, and he had said there were 300 to 400 pigeons perching on his land – which is not an awful lot of pigeons for the size of the land.

Michael was getting very little sleep even though the banger was not on at night, Brendan Grehan put it to Paddy Ferris, to which Paddy replied: “The stress of it.”

The trial continues.

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