'Our brother was ambushed'

Family of brutally slain farmer tell sentence hearing of their agony

The late Anthony O’Mahony
The late Anthony O’Mahony
Killer Michael Ferris
Anthony O’Mahony’s nephew James O’Mahony leaves the Criminal Courts of Justice complex in Dublin on Monday having delivered a victim impact statement at the sentencing hearing of his late uncle’s killer Michael Ferris. Photo Mark Condren

Simon Brouder

The family of slain Ballyduff farmer Anthony O'Mahony have told his killer's sentencing hearing of the agony they endured as they listened to their loved one's reputation getting "shredded" in court.

Last month Michael Ferris of Rattoo, Ballyduff was found guilty of the manslaughter of his elderly neighbour Anthony O'Mahony of Ardoughter, Ballyduff at Rattoo, Ballyduff on April 4, 2007.

Mr Ferris - who killed Mr O'Mahony by repeatedly ramming his car with a pronged teleporter - appeared before the Central Criminal Court in Dublin on Monday for sentencing.

The hearing heard powerful victim impact statements from Mr O'Mahony's grieving relatives, who sobbed as they spoke about their awful loss.

James O'Mahony, the victim's nephew, read a statement on behalf of his father Seamus, Mr O'Mahony's brother.

Mr O'Mahony said that his brother didn't "stand a chance" and had been "totally ambushed" by his killer, Mr Ferris.

Seamus O'Mahony said that while the details of his brother's horrific death had been extremely hard to hear, the "shredding" of his brother's good name had been even more harrowing for the family.

"Every story has two sides and there was only one side of the story told during this trial. People will remember my brother the way he was depicted in the trial and this hurts us greatly," he said.

"First, we lost a brother, an uncle and a friend, in the most horrific way imaginable, then, we had to endure a two-week trial, which has devastated my family," Mr O'Mahony said.

"As difficult as it was to hear the grotesque details of how Anthony's life was ended, the way his good character was shredded during the trial was even more harrowing and emotionally stressful," he said.

The court heard that the O'Mahony family live in fear of the day Michael Ferris is freed.

"He (Ferris) said he snapped once, what is to stop him snapping again and doing something similar," Mr O'Mahony said.

"Never once has he or his family apologised for his actions. That speaks for itself really," said Mr O'Mahony.

A second victim impact statement from Anthony O'Mahony's sister, Angela Houlihan, was read to the court by Ms Houlihan's daughter, Ann O'Carroll.

"A sudden death is hard to cope with, an accident is devastating but what happened that morning is something we will never come to terms with."

She decried her brother's portrayal during his killer's trial.

"Anthony was physically torn apart that day and his character has been constantly attacked since. As his sister, I have to speak for the brother and person that I knew who deserved dignity and respect but even in death he did not receive that. We have not seen any evidence of remorse or regret from that day in April right through to today and I don't believe we ever will," she said.

Defence Counsel Brendan Grehan - who said he had been instructed to express his client's remorse and to apologise to the O'Mahony family - described Mr Ferris as placid and easygoing.

Mr Grehan said the killing was the result of something that had built up inside Mr Ferris over many years and he urged the court to be lenient.

Ms Justice Carmel Stewart said she would impose sentence next Monday, December 2. She expressed her sympathies to the O'Mahony family and acknowledged how painful the criminal process must be for them.