Thursday 19 September 2019

Family of farmer killed by neighbour with teleporter say his good character was 'shredded' during trial

Michael Ferris (63) was found guilty of the manslaughter of John Anthony O'Mahony

John Anthony O'Mahony
John Anthony O'Mahony
Eimear Cotter

Eimear Cotter

A Co Kerry tillage farmer who was killed by his neighbour with a teleporter was a "decent and honest man" who was "good, kind and giving".

John Anthony O'Mahony's family said they were devastated at how their brother's good character had been "shredded" during the trial into his death.

His killer, Michael Ferris (63), expressed "remorse and sorrow at his actions" and apologised to the O'Mahony family for what had happened.

The defendant's family also extended their sympathies to the O'Mahony family.

Last month, Ferris was found not guilty of murder but guilty of the manslaughter of Mr O'Mahony by a jury at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Tralee.

Ferris had "snapped" over a crow banger, the court had heard.

Ms Justice Carmel Stewart said she would sentence the defendant next Monday.

She also extended her sympathies to the deceased man's family, adding that she appreciated how painful the process had been for them.

In his victim impact statement, Anthony's brother Seamus O'Mahony said he had worked in partnership with the deceased.

He said he had known there was an issue with some locals about the crow banger but he had not known "the extent of the anger".

Mr O'Mahony said no one had ever approached him about it, and if they had "all this could have been avoided" and some arrangement could have been put in place.

The fact that Mr O'Mahony was killed over a crow banger "beggars belief" he said, in his victim statement which was read into court by his son James.

He also said the family found it difficult to understand what had happened to Anthony as "who would do something so unspeakable over a crow banger".

Mr O'Mahony said his brother was a "decent and honest" man, a "passionate farmer" and a "hard worker".

He said the family will never get over what happened to Anthony. They had lost a brother, uncle and friend in the most "horrific way imaginable".

Particularly devastating for the family was the way Anthony's good character had been "shredded" during the trial, as "only one side" was told.

He said it had been printed in the media that Anthony's neighbours had been living in fear of him, but people had since approached him to say they were hurt by this, and "so many people only had good things to say" about him.

Angela Houlihan, the sister of John Anthony O'Mahony

In her victim impact statement, Angela Houlihan, the victim's sister, said she never got to say goodbye to Anthony as there wasn't an open casket as his funeral as his "body was totally and utterly mutilated".

Speaking on her mother's behalf, Ann O'Carroll, said the family will never come to terms with what happened to Anthony.

Every time Mrs Houlihan saw a teleporter, it reminded her how Anthony lost his life, she said, and she never knew "what sight or sound would spark a memory" of what had happened.

Mrs Houlihan said her brother was a very knowledgeable farmer, particularly in relation to horticulture. He was not into computers or mobile phones, but loved getting his knowledge from books and newspapers.

Anthony loved his family and he loved when it was time to harvest the corn, she said. After the harvest, Anthony enjoyed going to the Listowel races, the court heard.

Mrs Houlihan said she would bring Anthony his dinner every day, and she hadn't known that April 3, 2017 would be the last time she'd see and chat with him.

Anthony was "hard working, kind and generous". He had his faults, Mrs Houlihan added, but so does everyone.

She said the family will live the rest of their lives with his "pain and loss".

During the trial, the prosecution alleged that Ferris “intentionally rammed” Mr O’Mahony’s car with the large prongs of a teleporter on a country road. This caused severe damage to the car and “catastrophic injuries” to Mr O’Mahony resulting in his death.

Ferris, of Rattoo, Ballyduff, had denied the murder of tillage farmer John Anthony O’Mahony (73) at Rattoo on April 4, 2017.

The prosecution had argued the killing had been deliberate. However, the defence said there had been accumulated provocation because of the behaviour of the deceased.

The court heard that Ferris told gardai he drove the forks of his teleporter through the car because there was no other way to stop Mr O’Mahony using a loud crow banger.

He told gardai after his arrest that the banger, a device used to scare away birds, would wake the dead and had been an issue for 30 years.

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