A Co Kerry farmer who killed his neighbour with a teleporter has been jailed for five years.
Michael Ferris (63) “deprived Anthony O’Mahony of his life in appalling circumstances”, a judge said, adding that the deceased man had suffered “horrific, horrible” injuries.
The family of Mr O’Mahony has said that the pain of his death has now been “exacerbated by the leniency” of his sentence.
Michael Ferris (63) was jailed for five years this morning for the manslaughter of his neighbour John Anthony O’Mahony (73).
Ms Justice Carmel Stewart said that Ferris had “deprived Anthony O’Mahony of his life in appalling circumstances”, adding the deceased man had suffered “horrific, horrible” injuries.
Outside the Criminal Courts of Justice, Mr O’Mahony’s family spoke out about the leniency of the sentence, saying that “justice had not been served”.
Ann O’Carroll, the deceased’s niece, said in a statement that Mr O’Mahony’s good name had been “blackened” during the trial, and he had not been there to defend himself.
The trial had been a “deeply distressing and painful” ordeal.
She said justice had not been served, and given the pre-meditated nature of the killing the just conviction was one of murder.
Mrs O’Carroll said the family’s pain had now been “exacerbated by the leniency of the sentence imposed by the court”.
She said that the defendant’s legal team had introduced the defence of provocation. To the O’Mahony family this was an attempt to “justify the killing” and it “denigrated the value of Anthony’s life”.
Mrs O’Carroll said that “victim blaming” had been in the news and had been mentioned in other cases, and this was “another example of it”.
She thanked An Garda Siochana, their neighbours and family for their support, adding that they will never get over the “devastating” loss of Anthony.
In October, Ferris was found not guilty of murder but guilty of the manslaughter of John Anthony O’Mahony by a jury at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Tralee.
Ferris had “snapped” over a crow banger, the court had heard.
He told gardai that Mr O’Mahony had been using the “crow banger” for 30 years and had paid no heed to anyone when asked to stop.
Ferris used his teleporter to block a rural road and then drove the prongs of the vehicle into Mr O’Mahony’s car, causing him catastrophic injuries.
This morning, Ms Justice Carmel Stewart imposed a six year sentence, suspending the final 12 months for three years.
The judge also backdated the sentence to when Ferris went into custody, in April 2017.
Judge Stewart said it was of “profound regret”, not just to the court, but to all residents of Rattoo, that the issue of the noise from the crow banger had not been dealt with in some other way.
She said the court had to look at the degree of provocation, though this was a subjective test.
The judge said that Ferris inflicted “horrific, horrible” injuries on Mr O’Mahony.
Judge Stewart said the “nature and duration of the attack was truly gruesome and horrific” and “defied belief and imagination”.
She said that a small token of consolation for the victim’s family was that, on the evidence of the Deputy State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster, death was instantaneous.
The judge also said the effect the killing had and continued to have on Mr O’Mahony’s family was difficult to quantify.
Mitigating factors in imposing sentence were the defendant’s age and previous good character, that he had been described as “gentlemanly” and had co-operated fully with gardai.
He had also admitted unlawfully killing Mr O’Mahony, though that plea had not been accepted by the DPP.
Last Monday, Mr O’Mahony’s family said they were devastated at how their brother’s good character had been “shredded” during the trial into his death.
In his victim impact statement, Anthony’s brother Seamus O’Mahony said he had worked in partnership with the deceased.
He said he had known there was an issue with some locals about the crow banger but he had not known “the extent of the anger”.
Mr O’Mahony said no one had ever approached him about it, and if they had “all this could have been avoided” and some arrangement could have been put in place.
The fact that Anthony was killed over a crow banger “beggars belief” he said, in his victim statement which was read into court by his son James.
He also said the family found it difficult to understand what had happened to Anthony as “who would do something so unspeakable over a crow banger”.
Mr O’Mahony said his brother was a “decent and honest” man, a “passionate farmer” and a “hard worker”.
He said the family will never get over what happened to Anthony. They had lost a brother, uncle and friend in the most “horrific way imaginable”.
Particularly devastating for the family was the way Anthony’s good character had been “shredded” during the trial, as “only one side” was told.
He said it had been printed in the media that Anthony’s neighbours had been living in fear of him, but people had since approached him to say they were hurt by this, and “so many people only had good things to say” about him.
In her victim impact statement, Angela Houlihan, the victim’s sister, said she never got to say goodbye to Anthony as there wasn’t an open casket as his funeral as his “body was totally and utterly mutilated”.
Speaking on her mother’s behalf, Ann O’Carroll, said the family will never come to terms with what happened to Anthony.
Every time Mrs Houlihan saw a teleporter, it reminded her how Anthony lost his life, she said, and she never knew “what sight or sound would spark a memory” of what had happened.
Mrs Houlihan said her brother was a very knowledgeable farmer, particularly in relation to horticulture. He was not into computers or mobile phones, but loved getting his knowledge from books and newspapers.
Anthony was “hard working, kind and generous”. He had his faults, Mrs Houlihan added, but so does everyone.
She said the family will live the rest of their lives with his “pain and loss”.
During the trial, the prosecution alleged that Ferris “intentionally rammed” Mr O’Mahony’s car with the large prongs of a teleporter on a country road. This caused severe damage to the car and “catastrophic injuries” to Mr O’Mahony resulting in his death.
Ferris, of Rattoo, Ballyduff, had denied the murder of tillage farmer John Anthony O’Mahony (73) at Rattoo on April 4, 2017.
The prosecution had argued the killing had been deliberate. However, the defence said there had been accumulated provocation because of the behaviour of the deceased.
The court heard that Ferris told gardai he drove the forks of his teleporter through the car because there was no other way to stop Mr O’Mahony using a loud crow banger.
He told gardai after his arrest that the banger, a device used to scare away birds, would wake the dead and had been an issue for 30 years.
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