'Anthony's killer should have been tried in Dublin'

Anthony O’Mahony’s niece, Ann O'Carroll, and his sister, Angela Houlihan, arrive at Tralee Courthouse during the trial of his killer, Michael Ferris
Anthony O’Mahony’s niece, Ann O'Carroll, and his sister, Angela Houlihan, arrive at Tralee Courthouse during the trial of his killer, Michael Ferris

Simon Brouder

The family of slain north Kerry farmer Anthony O'Mahony - who was brutally killed when his neighbour repeatedly rammed his car with a pronged teleporter - have said that his killer's trial should never have been held in Kerry.

In October, Michael Ferris (63) of Rattoo, Ballyduff, was found not guilty of murder but guilty of the manslaughter of his 73-year-old neighbour at Rattoo, Ballyduff, on April 4, 2017.

Mr Ferris had used a teleporter agricultural machine to repeatedly ram Mr O'Mahony's car, causing the elderly man "catastrophic" injuries.

He was subsequently sentenced to five years in prison with the sentence backdated to his arrest in April 2017, meaning that with standard remission and time already served, Michael Ferris could be released by Christmas 2020.

The sentence was slammed by Mr O'Mahony's devastated family, who were also deeply distressed by how their loved one had been portrayed during the trial. They made contact with the DPP and requested that the leniency of the sentence be appealed, and on Thursday, December 20, they were told their request had been granted.

While the family welcomed the news that the appeal is to go ahead, they said that based on their past experience of the legal system they were not "overly confident" that Mr O'Mahony's killer's sentence will be increased.

"We're pleased the appeal is going ahead; it is a step in the right direction at least. Anthony's life was worth more than just five years" said Mr O'Mahony's niece, Ann O'Carroll.

"We wouldn't be overly confident. We haven't had much luck with the justice system; we have to wait and see what happens," she said.

"The sentence doesn't fit the crime," Ms O'Carroll said.

Ms O'Carroll said that the family is strongly of the view that Michael Ferris' murder trial should not have been held in Kerry and that the case should have been tried before a Dublin jury, with no links to Kerry, at the Criminal Courts of Justice complex in the capital.

The family has not been told when the appeal will take place, but it is not expected to be finalised until later this year.

The appeal process will see a three-judge panel conduct a thorough review of the trial including an examination of the full written record of proceedings and trial judge Ms Justice Carmel Stewart's interpretation of the law.

It should be noted that the Appeal Court will not increase a sentence just because its members think that sentence is too light.

The court can only increase the sentence if they think the trial judge was legally wrong in passing sentence based on a specific point of law.

"Appeal court judges will not change a sentence just because they think the sentence was too light or because they would have given a different sentence. As a result, a successful appeal is only possible in a small number of cases," the DPP said.