Ballyduff murder trial underway

Farmer on trial for the murder of neighbouring farm owner

Simon Brouder

The trial of a north Kerry farmer who is accused of murdering another farmer that owned lands neighbouring his own has commenced at Tralee Courthouse.

On Tuesday morning before the Central Criminal Court sitting in Tralee, Michael 'Mike' Ferris of Rattoo, Ballyduff, pleaded not guilty to the murder of John Anthony O'Mahony from Ardoughter, Ballyduff  at Rattoo, Ballyduff at around 8am on the morning of April 4, 2017.

The trial before Ms Justice Carmel Stewart is expected to last for at least two weeks. On Tuesday morning a jury of seven men and five women was sworn in and the prosecution was due to formally open its case this morning (Wednesday) at 11am.

Before the jury was selected, Prosecution Barrister Mr Tom Rice outlined the basic details of the case and those involved  to the jury panel. Mr Rice said it will be the prosecution case that 63-year-old diary farmer Mr Ferris murdered 74-year-old bachelor John Anthony O'Mahony on the public road leading to Rattoo Tower outside Ballyduff.

Mr Rice said that Mr O'Mahony and his brother owned a 100 acre plot of land adjacent to Mr Ferris' farm and that Mr O'Mahony had farmed approximately 40 acres of this land. Mr O'Mahony and his brother - who lived a distance away from the farm, on the other side of Ballyduff village - had bought the land in the late 1980s.

The jury panel was told that the trial will hear from a number of witnesses, including relatives of both the accused and the deceased; neighbours who live on the road where the fatal incident occurred; medical experts including local GP Dr Richard O'Reilly and Assistant State Pathologist Margot Bolster and several gardaí from Listowel and Tralee.

Mr Ferris will be represented by solicitor Frank Buttimer and barristers Brendan Grehan SC and Brian McInerney. The prosecution case will be presented by barristers Patrick McGrath SC and Tom Rice, who are acting for the DPP.

Discharging the jury for the rest of the day Ms Justice Stewart advised the panel on Tuesday that they must not look up or research any aspect of the case on social media, online or in the traditional media and told them that they may not discuss any aspect of the case with anyone else.

The case was due to recommence at Tralee Courthouse at 11am on Wednesday morning.