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Wednesday 21 November 2018

'The crow banger would wake the dead and was going off for 30 years', jury in murder trial hears

Michael Ferris (blue shirt, no tie) who appeared at Tralee District Court in May 2017. Anthony O'Mahony (inset) Pic:Mark Condren
Michael Ferris (blue shirt, no tie) who appeared at Tralee District Court in May 2017. Anthony O'Mahony (inset) Pic:Mark Condren

A 63-year-old north Kerry farmer drove the forks of his teleporter in through the window and down on top of the car of a neighbouring landowner because there was no other way to stop his neighbour using a loud crow banger, he told gardai on the day of his arrest, on April 4, 2017 on suspicion of 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 at Rattoo on April 4, 2017.

The trial at the Central Criminal Court in Tralee, which is taking place before a jury of seven men and five women and presided over by Ms Justice Carmel Stewart, has entered its second week.

The court heard today that the crow banger would wake the dead and had been going on for 30 years.

“Surely there was some other way to get around it,” arresting garda Det Sergeant John Heaslip had put it to Michael Ferris at one stage during the interview at Listowel Garda Station where he was brought, shortly after his arrest on the morning of April 4,  and the accused had replied,” believe me there wasn’t.”

He had just “snapped” on the particular morning, he also told the gardai in the memo of the interview read to the jury on Tuesday.

On the morning in question, he parked his teleporter in order to block the road and he heard hooting and knew it was Anthony O’Mahony. He was not in the teleporter because in the meantime he had gone away to do a few jobs.

In the first interview with gardai under caution, while sitting at the dining table of the kitchen of Mairead Walsh, where he went to say “Mahony is gone”,  sometime after 8 am, Detective Sergeant Donal Horgan of Tralee gardai told the trial how the accused had said: “I will tell ye what happened…”

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Reading from his notes, Det Sgt Horgan told how, after caution, Michael Ferris said: “Anthony Mahony was going to be coming down the road with a crow banger. There is always a problem with him for years. It would wake the dead. I spoke to him years ago about it.

"Today, I blocked the road with a teleporter to stop him coming down. I parked it sideways. He started hooting. I was not in the teleporter. I sat up on the teleporter. I did not talk to him. No good talking to him. (With) The pallet forks I had on it, I made for the car and drove into it.”

Later at Listowel garda station, Michelle Redding took his personal details when he was brought into Listowel arrested on suspicion of murder earlier that morning. She told Patrick McGrath SC for the prosecution how Michael Ferris appeared “calm” and he answered her coherently.

There was no difficulty with him, she told Brendan Grehan, SC defence counsel.

He was a gentlemen in every regard, Mr Grehan put it to her. “On that morning yes,” she replied.

Det Garda Paul Walsh, who interviewed Michael Ferris, along with arresting sergeant Det John Heaslip at Listowel garda station told the trial how, when asked to explain the background to it all, Michael Ferris replied to Det Heaslip: “It was all over a crow banger, really.”

Asked to explain exactly what a crow banger was, Michael Ferris told the detectives interviewing him it was “a bit like a shot gun, only being a lot louder,” and was for frightening crows.

Anthony Mahony had the banger turned on about a week and it was “very annoying” turned on, he said.

Det Heaslip asked what made that morning different and Mr Ferris replied: “I just snapped, I suppose.”

And when Det John Heaslip asked him what he said to himself that morning, Michael  Ferris replied  “I had to do something about it, John.”

He told how blocked the road with his teleporter and “went off doing a few jobs in the meantime.”

Then he heard the car hooting and he partly guessed it was Anthony O’Mahony and he came back and went into the teleporter.

Det Heaslip asked again:“What were you thinking, what was going through your mind?” to which Michael Ferris replied: “Nothing good anyway, John.”

Pressed again on why it was he set out to take action that morning, Mr Ferris had said: “Because this banging business had been going on with the last 30 years and he was paying no heed to anyone when they asked him to turn it off.”

He had to be stopped one way or another – the accused also said.

And in he the interview he agreed with gardai that had wanted to do away with the deceased.

“Are you saying you intended to kill him,” the detective asked and Michael Ferris said yes, adding: “He had to be stopped and that was it.”

There was no point going to a solicitor, as Anthony O’Mahony would take no notice of a solicitor, Mr Ferris had also said.

There was no way to deal with it other than to kill him, he agreed is what he meant.

Towards the end of the garda interview memo read to the court, Michael Ferris agreed he was a placid easy going person, he also told the detectives he was a private person and had not discussed the matter with his brother or anyone.

It was “all over a crow banger,”  he confirmed at the end of the interview.

GP Dr Richard O’Reilly, who practices at the corner of the Rattoo to Ballyduff road had gone to  the accident and confirmed the death Mr O’Mahony, dead at 9.15am.

He was later called to attend Michael Ferris at Listowel Garda Station. He has been Mr Ferris’ doctor for 20 years and Michael Ferris had suffered from high blood pressure. He had never treated Michael Ferris for any mental illness, Dr O’Reilly said .

When he visited him at Listowel Garda Station he found Michael Ferris was his normal self, was not suffering from psychosis. He was upset and his blood pressure was raised.

He was called there because Michael Ferris could not remember if he had taken his medication for “low“ blood pressure that morning, or what the medication was, the court heard.

Cross examined by Brendan Grehan SC, Dr O’Reilly said there was no delirium, hallucination or voices which would indicate psychosis. He agreed that the fact his patient could not remember if he had taken his medication and had in fact high blood pressure, not low blood pressure indicated confusion.

The trial has also heard from public service vehicle and forensic collision inspector Garda James O’Brien.

He said the New Holland teleporter, was usually used in construction, and was an industrial lifting machine and had a boom attached.

It had lifted the one and a half tonne Peugeot car of the deceased “clear off the ground”, he formed the opinion.

“It dropped the car and picked it up again a number of times,” Garda O’Brien said. Blood stains on the pierce holes in the roof and bonnet indicated they were made after the body was pierced, he also said.

Garda O’Brien had formed the opinion the movements and actions of the teleporter were the direct result of purposeful actions by its driver.

The trial continues.

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