Tuesday 19 February 2019

Farmer who 'snapped' over crow banger could be free in two years

Farmer Michael Ferris (63). Picture: Domnick Walsh
Farmer Michael Ferris (63). Picture: Domnick Walsh
Eimear Cotter

Eimear Cotter

A farmer jailed for five years for killing his elderly neighbour with the prongs of a teleporter could be released within two years.

Michael Ferris (63) "deprived Anthony O'Mahony of his life in appalling circumstances", said a judge during his sentence hearing, adding that the deceased man had suffered "horrific, horrible" injuries.

In October, Ferris, of Rattoo, Ballyduff, Co Kerry, was found not guilty of murder but guilty of the manslaughter of Mr O'Mahony (73) at Rattoo on April 4, 2017, by a jury at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Tralee.

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

Yesterday, Ms Justice Carmel Stewart imposed a six-year sentence, suspending the final 12 months for three years.

The judge also backdated the sentence to when Ferris first went into custody, in April 2017.

With remission and time already served, Ferris is likely to be out of prison by Christmas 2020.

Judge Stewart said it was of "profound regret", not just to the court, but to all residents of Rattoo, that the issue of the noise from the crow banger had not been dealt with in some other way.

She said the court had to look at the degree of provocation, though this was a subjective test.

The judge said that Ferris inflicted "horrific, horrible" injuries on Mr O'Mahony.

Judge Stewart said the "nature and duration of the attack was truly gruesome and horrific" and "defied belief and imagination".

She said that a small token of consolation for the victim's family was that, on the evidence of the Deputy State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster, his death was instantaneous.

The judge also said the effect the killing had and continued to have on Mr O'Mahony's family was difficult to quantify.

She also reassured Mr O'Mahony's family that she had taken account of the obvious grief they had suffered.

Mitigating factors in imposing sentence were the defendant's age and previous good character, that he had been described as "gentlemanly" and had co-operated fully with gardaí.

He had also admitted unlawfully killing Mr O'Mahony, though that plea had not been accepted by the DPP.

Ferris had also expressed his extreme sorrow and remorse to Mr O'Mahony's family.

The judge said the headline sentence in this case was 12 years.

In light of mitigating factors, she reduced the sentence to six years.

The judge also suspended the final year for three years.

The defendant did not react when the sentence was revealed.

The judge reiterated her sympathies to Mr O'Mahony's family and told them the court was constrained by previous cases and authorities.

"It does not diminish your grief and all I can do is hope you will come to some peace and happiness by way of getting on with your own lives," she concluded.

Irish Independent

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