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Friday 16 November 2018

Murder trial victim had conviction for shooting local pheasant hunter

Farmer Michael Ferris (63). Picture: Domnick Walsh
Farmer Michael Ferris (63). Picture: Domnick Walsh
John O’Mahony was found to have ‘catastrophic injuries’ after the alleged incident

Anne Lucey

A farmer who was allegedly murdered by his neighbour with a teleporter had previously appeared in court on shotgun charges.

The jury in the trial of Michael Ferris (63), of Rattoo, Ballyduff, Co Kerry, who denies murdering John Anthony O'Mahony (73) at Rattoo, was told he had no previous convictions.

However, it was told Mr O'Mahony had appeared in connection with discharging a shotgun.

In 1993, he had shot at pheasant hunters, members of Ballyduff gun club, who strayed on to his lands without permission.

John McNamara, of Killarda, Lisselton, who was called by the defence, said there had been no warning and pellets came through the hedge and struck the head of his fellow hunter and gun club member John O'Connor. He was convicted of assaulting Mr O'Connor with a pellet and fined IR£50 at Causeway Court.

The court also heard of an incident in 1993 where two social welfare officers who called to the Rattoo lands were threatened by the deceased.

He apologised in court for this and no conviction was recorded.

Detective Garda Paul Walsh said a shotgun recovered from the boot of Mr O'Mahony's car on the morning he was killed was not licensed.

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A licence would have been objected to, the garda said.

Evidence in the trial of Mr Ferris has now concluded and closing speeches are expected today.

The trial, in its second week, heard of "catastrophic injuries", including evulsion of the heart and liver inflicted by the prongs of a teleporter on the body of tillage farmer Mr O'Mahony.

A crow banger, a device used to scare away birds, was at the centre of issues between Mr O'Mahony and neighbours.

It was brought into the court and displayed while a garda witness explained its operation to the jury.

Mr O'Mahony was in the driver's seat of his car with his safety belt on at around 8am on April 4, 2017. His car had been lifted "clear of the ground" by a New Holland Teleporter, a heavy industrial machine, the trial was told.

The forks of the boom of the teleporter had slid along and pierced the roof of the Peugeot car "like you'd open a can of beans", Garda expert witness James O'Brien said.

In interviews with gardaí on the morning of the incident, the jury was told Mr Ferris said he had blocked the road with his teleporter. He allegedly agreed he had driven the forks onto the car and also said "it was about the crow banger".

This had been an issue for 30 years, he told gardaí in Listowel, in memos read to the court.

Mr Ferris had said in Garda interviews that the crow banger, used by Mr O'Mahony on his 100 acres of wheat and other crops in Rattoo, would "wake the dead".

Irish Independent

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