North Kerry farmer found guilty of manslaughter of neighbouring landowner

Michael Ferris. Photo by Aisling O'Brien / © Radio Kerry

A north Kerry farmer has been found guilty of the manslaughter of a neighbouring landowner last year.

63-year-old Michael Ferris of Rattoo, Ballyduff had pleaded not guilty to the murder of John Anthony O’Mahony of Ardoughter, Ballyduff on April 4th 2017.

The case, which centred on the use of a crow banger by the deceased, lasted eight days before the Central Criminal Court sitting at Tralee Courthouse.

The late John Anthony O'Mahony
The late John Anthony O’Mahony

Around 8 o’clock on the morning of April 4th 2017, 73-year-old Anthony O’Mahony arrived in Rattoo, where he farmed 100 acres of tillage ground, to find a teleporter belonging to Michael Ferris blocking the road.

The pair had fallen out years previously over Mr O’Mahony’s use of a crow banger to protect his crops from birds.

The defence described the deceased man as unreasonable and said the community were living in fear of him.

The crow banger at the centre of the case
The crow banger at the centre of the case

Neighbours in Rattoo had also fallen out with Mr O’Mahony due to the positioning of the crow banger near their homes, which sounded like an explosion every four minutes or so.

When Mr O’Mahony began hooting the horn of his car, Michael Ferris got into the teleporter and drove it at the pensioner’s car lifting it clear from the ground, dropping and picking it up a number of times.

Anthony O’Mahony suffered catastrophic injuries from the prongs of the teleporter including at least five penetrating wounds, two of which extended right through the body.

There was total evulsion of the heart and liver, which were found in the deceased’s car.

Mr Ferris then drove the teleporter with its prongs covered in blood, glass and body matter back to the yard of his dairy farm nearby.

The accused man had never been treated for mental illness and his GP told the court there was no psychosis evident when he examined him on the day of the killing.

Gardai bring evidence including the crow banger from the courthouse
Gardai bring evidence including the crow banger from the courthouse

Mr Ferris told Gardai it was all over a crow banger and he had just snapped that morning; the defence said Mr Ferris had been provoked over many years.

However, the prosecution claimed this was an intentional and deliberate killing; the deceased man hadn’t threatened Mr Ferris who had not a shred of remorse or regret.

After an eight-day trial it took the jury four hours and 31 minutes to return a majority verdict of not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

Ms Justice Carmel Stewart extended her sympathies to the family of Anthony O’Mahony, who were visibly upset in court.

Sentencing will take place on November 26th in the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin.