Teleporter murder accused told gardaí he was ‘in fair debt’ over money put into the farm he co-owned with victim

Chrissie Treacy (76)

Nicola AndersonIndependent.ie

Michael Scott told gardaí he was “in fair debt” over the amount of money he had put into the farm he co-owned with his aunt, Chrissie Treacy.

He had spent €120,000 on building works and a further €10,000 on stakes to reclaim land around the house and said he ‘meant to go up to 100 cows on the land.’

In the garda interview after Ms Treacy’s death, he claimed to have received a phone call from Chrissie on the evening before her death in which she told him that he could “work away and put up his shed at Derryhiney” and he took it to mean the lease on her half of the 140 acres had been sorted out.

It is the prosecution’s case that Michael Scott deliberately ran over his aunt Christine ‘Chrissie’ Treacy (76) with an agricultural teleporter following a long-running dispute over land.

Mr Scott (58) of Gortanumera, Portumna, Co Galway, has pleaded not guilty to her murder on April 27, 2018, at her home in Derryhiney, Portumna.

The defence says that Miss Treacy’s death was a tragic accident.

Declan McHugh, an agricultural consultant and auctioneer employed by Ms Treacy told the Central Criminal Court he had valued the value of the lease of the 140 acres at Derryhiney in December 2017 at a total of €26,000 and so the approximate lease value for half of that land would be €13,000.

Chief State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan told the court that she had carried out a post mortem on the body of the late Chrissie Treacy on April 28, 2018.

That morning, she called to the farmyard at Derryhiney and was shown the teleporter with its wheels on the left covered by black plastic.

On removal of the plastic, there was biological tissue on the back wheel.

The elderly woman’s body was face down on the concrete courtyard, with her feet towards the teleporter and her head pointing away towards an adjacent field.

There were obvious crush injuries to her left forearm and hand as well as her right leg. There were tyre marks consistent with the teleporter over the back of her trousers.

The elderly woman’s panic button alarm was around her neck on a cord.

In a formal post mortem examination at University Hospital Galway, the pathologist found evidence of crush injuries travelling diagonally over the right leg, pelvis, the left lower abdomen, left chest and left forearm.

The injuries, which included a major tear to the aorta, were not compatible with survival and would have resulted in ‘almost instantaneous death.’

She gave the cause of death as “multiple traumatic run-over or crush injuries.”

Dr Mulligan agreed with Paul Greene SC for the Defence that it was a reasonable possibility that one pass by the vehicle over the body could have caused all these injuries, but could not exclude a second passing over the body.

Asked by Mr Kelly about post mortem twitching, Dr Mulligan said there can be twitching for a very short period after death of not more than a minute or two and it would normally be limited to the limbs and the smaller muscles of the face.

Agricultural consultant Joseph Carty, who worked with Mr Scott said he was aware of the farmer’s concern that he was going to lose his herd number – described as ‘a licence to farm’ – if the lease was not in order for the land at Derryhiney and said that, in the long term, Mr Scott’s existing herd was not sustainable on 70 acres and he needed the 140 acres.

In December 2017 he went through a letter from Ms Treacy’ solicitor with Mr Scott and his wife Cora, explaining that it meant that some of the land would stay with Mr Scott while other land would be taken into Chrissie’s ownership. Mr Scott was “very annoyed” by this and said “this will end badly.”

Mr Carty was ‘taken aback’ by his level of anger and did not respond.

That evening, Mr Carty received a call from Mr Scott who told him that in the months prior to that, he had been accused of intimidating Ms Treacy.

Mr Carty warned him of his behaviour, saying: “If you lay a finger on Chrissie that will finish you and me.”

Mr Scott replied: “You know what lads like me are like, we’re all talk.”

In a further conversation in early 2018, he told him he had changed solicitors and that his new solicitor had advised him that he could call for the selling of the farm at Derryhiney and Mr Carty replied: “That’s a better option than losing your mind over it.”

Dt Sgt Paul Duane told the trial that in a garda interview on May 4 2018, Mr Scott had said “the nicest thing” that had happened on the evening before Chrissie’s death was that he had a phone call from her, telling that ‘things were worked out now’ about the land and that all he would have to do was contact his solicitor and she would contact hers.

“I was delighted,” he said.

On the day of Chrissie’s death, he had worked on the farm in the morning before going home. After his wife Cora had collected their two young children from school, she brought back a letter from the post box at the pillar.

The letter was from Declan McHugh and it instructed him that he could not claim aid for three parcels of land.

“The only thing that caused me grief was to see Declan’s name on it – I didn’t like that man because I fell out with him years ago,” he said.

He told gardaí that he had ‘enough land for his entitlements and it didn’t bother him.’

He left home and went to Derryhiney where he went to move a drinking trough on the land with the teleporter.

Reversing it out of the shed, he ‘hit something’ – “I thought it was a trailer I hit,” he said.

He pulled up and saw Chrissie on the ground and then rang his neighbour, Francis Hardiman saying: “Something terrible is after happening.”

When Mr Hardiman arrived, Mr Scott went to get his gun, telling gardaí: “I wanted to take my own life. I wish to God I did.”

“I got the old gun out of the jeep, I don't know if Francis got it off me. I don’t know did I black out then. Everything went pure dizzy on me.”

He told gardaí that he and Ms Treacy had co-owned the farm at Derryhiney and that it had “worked out the finest.”

After he hit Ms Treacy with the teleporter, he said he went over to check her, asking if she was alright and said he could see her moving her head and her right arm on the ground.

Asked if he checked her pulse, he said he had not as he “wouldn’t know anything the like of that”, nor did he call the emergency services, saying he did not know the number.

The mirror on the left of the teleporter had broken off some time ago, while the one on the right did not have good visibility with the boom down, he said.

Paul Greene Sc for the Prosecution put it to Sgt Duane that his client “became emotional” in parts of the interview and he agreed that on a few different occasions, started to cry and indicated he felt sick.

The trial continues.

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