Farmer convicted of killing elderly aunt in land row: ‘I’m not a monster’
Michael Scott says Chrissie Treacy’s death is ‘very sad’ but he shouldn’t go to jail
A farmer convicted of killing his 76-year-old aunt by reversing over her with a teleporter has insisted he meant her no harm, saying: “People have made me out to be a monster.”
In his first comments since being cleared of murder but convicted of the gross negligence manslaughter of Chrissie Treacy, Michael Scott said people have not heard his side of the story.
Scott (58), who was released on bail to get his affairs on his farm in order prior to sentencing, said he doesn’t think he will be sent to jail after being acquitted of murder.
“I’m not being rude or anything now, but it’s not over,” he told the Sunday World when we called to his father’s house in Co. Galway.
“As you know well, sure, (the sentencing is up on) the 12th.
“But fair play to you, you were the first man to call, so if you leave your number we’ll talk to you then – but it won’t be for this weekend.”
When it was pointed out to Scott, that he may well receive a jail sentence on June 12 and may not be in a position to speak afterwards, he replied: “Well, I think, unless things go very wrong, I will be coming home again.
“You can’t be doing time for gross negligence, that’s my opinion.”
Details of the horrific circumstances of Chrissie Treacy’s death and allegations she had been intimidated and was living in fear of Scott prior to her death were detailed over a lengthy trial, which ended on Thursday.
The court heard allegations a toxic relationship had developed between Scott and his elderly aunt as a result of a dispute over 140 acres of farmland they shared at Derryhiney.
But, ruling the killing an act of “gross negligence”, the jury ultimately did not accept the prosecution’s case that Scott had deliberately knocked down Chrissie in an act of murder “out of a sense of entitlement and for revenge”.
Instead, they found the Galway farmer guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
When asked by this newspaper on Friday if he was sorry for causing the death of the pensioner, Scott replied: “Oh Lord God, why wouldn’t I be? My only aunt – without a doubt”
But Scott said he would have to speak with his solicitor before saying anything further.
“I want to talk to my solicitor,” he said. “He’s after warning me there not to be talking to anyone over the weekend...
You can see my father there. We are genuine people. What went out [what people said] from day one was very, very wrong.
“It’s all very, very sad. People are saying horrible things and our side of the story hasn’t been heard at all. But I’d be afraid I’d be interfering with the barristers or solicitors by saying anything now.
“People have made me out to be a monster. That’s very tough, that’s very hard to listen to.”
Asked if he meant harm to his aunt, he said: “Oh God, not at all, not at all, I didn’t.
“You have to remember that she was the last surviving member of the family on my mother’s side.
“This has had an awful impact on our whole family but our story is not being heard.
“I was convicted of manslaughter through gross negligence, people are forgetting that.”
From the moment of Chrissie Treacy’s death on April 27, 2018, and throughout a lengthy Garda investigation and the subsequent trial, Scott maintained that her death was a tragic accident.
At 3.26pm that day, Scott rang neighbour Francis Hardiman and told him that he had “hit Chrissie with the teleporter”.
On arriving at the farm, Hardiman found the pensioner lying face down on the concrete near her home.
She had been run over with the teleporter and suffered multiple traumatic crush injuries.
State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan said she would have died “almost instantaneously”.
Mr Hardiman told the court he found Scott in a shed crying and shouting.
And he said Scott had pulled a gun from his jeep and said: “I can’t deal with this.”
Mr Hardiman managed to take the gun from him while Scott roared: “I can’t live with what happened to me.”
The background to the case outlined to the jury was that Chrissie had formerly farmed 140 acres of land, described as the “finest agricultural land”, at Derryhiney in Portumna with her brothers.
After her brothers died, the property was divided between Chrissie and Scott, who farmed all of it and was described as having an “almost childlike” obsession with land.
By April 2018, the relationship between the pair had completely broken down. The court heard Chrissie intended to partition her land from the parcel owned by her nephew and that he was angry and resentful about this.
She had begun legal proceedings and a letter formally outlining her intentions in relation to the land was sent to Scott the day before her death.
The court also heard that neighbours and friends were worried for Chrissie’s welfare and Gardaí had been notified of these concerns a month before she died.
Regina Donohue said she had encouraged Chrissie to move into a retirement home for her own safety, but Chrissie wanted to stay in her home.
The court also heard that the company who provided home care to Chrissie before her death sent their concerns to a HSE team leader, who contacted Gardaí.
On one occasion, while discussing the leasing of the farm with an agricultural consultant, Scott said “this will end badly”.
Prosecuting lawyers told the jury that Scott reversed over his aunt in a deliberate act of murder out of a sense of entitlement and revenge.
They said Scott’s claim that he did not see his aunt through the rear window of the teleporter was “self-serving, dishonest” nonsense.
Prosecution counsel Dean Kelly said the intensity and toxicity of the relationship between Chrissie and Scott was increasing with every passing week in the build up to her death.
He said there were incidents of general cruelty and unkindness, such as Scott refusing to bring her rubbish away and letting it pile up in her yard.
Mr Kelly reminded the jury of the “deliberate turning off” of Chrissie’s oil during very severe weather in early 2018. He said the only explanation was that Scott turned the oil off to “torment” his aunt.
He also noted the disappearance of Chrissie’s Jack Russell, Bradley, in February 2018.
The jury was not told, due to rules on hearsay, that Chrissie had blamed Scott for the animal’s disappearance.
After the jury found Scott not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter, Ms Justice Caroline Biggs remanded him on bail until June 12 for sentencing.
The judge said as a consequence of the gross negligence manslaughter verdict, she would allow him bail to put his affairs in order. However, she said she did not want him to have any expectation of continuous liberty.
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