Michael Scott, who denies murdering his aunt Chrissie Treacy by running over her in an agricultural teleporter, had an "almost childlike" obsession with land and was motivated only by land and cattle, a witness has told the Central Criminal Court.
The court also heard on Thursday that when Mr Scott told Robin Deasy that he "can't handle that woman at all", referring to his 76-year-old aunt, Mr Deasy told him not to touch Ms Treacy and to leave her company if he felt he was "getting hot".
Mr Deasy also described what he called a "bizarre" incident on Halloween night 2017 when Ms Treacy seemed "very frightened" after the back door of her home "slammed violently" before Mr Scott appeared in the doorway and started speaking at the top of his voice.
Sgt Gerard Cleary told the trial that about six weeks before Ms Treacy died, the accused came to Portumna Garda Station and became upset while telling him that he would have to "give up the cows" because Ms Treacy was being unreasonable.
The sergeant said: "He asked me to have a word with her. I advised him that I wouldn't be having a word with Chrissie on his behalf and I advised him to go to Derryhiney and show a bit of kindness to Chrissie and if he was good to her, it would work out okay for him."
The owner of a dairy told the trial that Mr Scott and his wife were paid more than €244,000 for 620,000 litres of milk in 2017.
Michael Scott (58) of Gortanumera, Portumna, Co Galway has pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Treacy outside her home in Derryhiney, Portumna, Co Galway on April 27th, 2018.
The prosecution alleges that Mr Scott deliberately ran over his aunt following a long-running dispute over land. Mr Scott's lawyers have said Ms Treacy's death was a tragic accident.
Mr Deasy told prosecution counsel Dean Kelly SC that he has known the Treacy family since he was a child and "held them in very high regard. They were very good to me for a very long time."
He said he has also known Mr Scott a long time, likes him "a lot" and considers him a "very good farmer, a hard worker and admirable for that".
After the death in 2011 of Chrissie's last remaining brother, Willie Treacy, Mr Scott came to Mr Deasy to ask about buying Ms Treacy out of the land at Derryhiney which was jointly owned by Mr Scott and his aunt.
Mr Deasy suggested to him that he enter a trust arrangement whereby Mr Scott would take care of his aunt in her old age in return for the land.
He said that he had entered a similar arrangement with his uncle and it was successful. "Mr Scott wasn't keen," he said, "didn't grasp the benefit of the idea," and told him: "You forget I’m nearly 50."
"I told him looking after someone, a relative, is very rewarding. I couldn't get it across to him. He was fixated on land," the witness said.
Mr Deasy agreed that Mr Scott had an "almost childlike" obsession with land and added: "As I saw it, it was the one thing that motivated Mike all his life was land and cattle."
On Halloween night, 2017, Mr Deasy and his wife visited Ms Treacy's home. "We were always welcome there," he said, but this night was "very different".
Chrissie "wasn't herself," he said. When she offered tea and Mr Deasy refused, saying he was getting too fat, she didn't react. "Normally she would say, "you're getting fat right enough" but she completely ignored it, her personality wasn't there."
Mr Deasy described her "fingering a bag on her lap" which contained holy pictures. He said: "She was uneasy, she didn't really want to see us, I thought."
After about ten minutes, he said: "The back door slammed violently open, and the kitchen door opened and Mike stood in the doorway and the dog started barking and Chrissie looked at the wall opposite and seemed very frightened.
Mike said at the top of his voice, "the herd passed its test, I thought you wanted to know"." Mr Deasy said it was "completely bizarre" and Ms Treacy had "no interest at all in the herd at that stage. I felt she wanted him gone out of the house, and then he turned and left."
Let off steam
Shortly after Christmas 2017 Mr Scott asked Mr Deasy if he could speak to him about "that woman", referring to Ms Treacy. Mr Scott told him that he "can't handle that woman at all" and Mr Deasy told him: "Whatever you do, don't touch her."
He said he had told Mr Scott that before and advised him that if he was "getting hot" to tell her he was leaving and would be back in the morning once he was feeling calmer. "I told him to whack the wheel of a tractor if he needed to let off steam," he said.
Sgt Gerard Cleary told Mr Kelly that he first met Ms Treacy on February 22, 2017 after Ms Treacy's friend and neighbour Regina Donohue came to him with concerns for Ms Treacy's welfare.
On February 13th, 2018 Sgt Cleary learned that Ms Treacy's dog Bradley had gone missing.
She was "in bits", when the sergeant called the following day and became more upset as the conversation continued. Sgt Cleary said he discussed with her the option of moving to Portumna for her peace of mind. "That was absolutely a non-starter," he said. "She was adamant she wanted to stay in her family home."
As Sgt Cleary was driving along the country lane from Ms Treacy's home he met Mr Scott who was stopped at a farm gate in his jeep.
Mr Scott lowered his window and Sgt Cleary asked if he had seen Bradley, the dog. Mr Scott became "extremely irate and aggressive" and asked if the sergeant or Ms Treacy were accusing him. Sgt Cleary said Mr Scott calmed down after being told that neither he nor Ms Treacy were accusing him of anything.
Mr Scott told Sgt Cleary that he had seen the dog eating a cow's afterbirth outside Ms Treacy's home on the day he went missing but hadn't seen him since. He said he would keep an eye out for the dog.
Three to four weeks later Mr Scott came to Portumna Garda Station and told Sgt Cleary he was "having problems with Chrissie over the land".
He told the sergeant that Ms Treacy was being unreasonable and that he would have to "give up the cows" because he didn't know where he stood with her and didn't know what land he would have. He seemed upset, Sgt Cleary said, held his hand to his face and appeared to be crying.
"He asked me to have a word with her. I advised him that I wouldn't be having a word with Chrissie on his behalf and I advised him to go to Derryhiney and show a bit of kindness to Chrissie and if he was good to her, it would work out okay for him."
By the end of March 2018 Sgt Cleary was aware that Freda Quinlan at the Health Service Executive had received a second Safeguarding Referral Form due to concerns about Ms Treacy's welfare.
On March 30th that year Sgt Cleary made a welfare check on Ms Treacy. She was "in good form and didn't wish to make any complaints and that was her position at all stages," he said. She had a new dog named Milo and appeared happy with his company.
Jerry Ryan told Mr Kelly that Mr Scott and his wife Cora Scott supply milk to his Arrabawn Dairy co-op in Nenagh, Co Tipperary.
He knew that Mr Scott had taken over the dairy farm following the death of Willie Treacy, Chrissie Treacy's brother, in 2011. He agreed that the Treacy family ran an award-winning farm and were "well known for running a top class dairy operation".
In 2017, Mr Ryan said the Scotts sold more than 620,000 litres of milk to the dairy and were paid a little over €244,000. Mr Scott had spent €63,270 on feed and fertiliser with Arrabawn in that year, he said.
Eugene Quirke told Mr Kelly that he works with elderly people who suffer from mental health problems and got to know Ms Treacy after she was diagnosed with depression and anxiety following her brother's death. In June 2016, Mr Quirke said he called to Michael Scott to "explore concerns" for Ms Treacy's welfare and to "ascertain what issues might be causing upset to her".
He said he advised Mr Scott not to put Ms Treacy under any pressure "with the farm or the land" and Mr Scott and his wife denied placing Ms Treacy under stress or pressure.
A social worker who was also at the meeting told Mr Scott that he was obliged to report anything that might contribute to Ms Treacy's stress, including "any suggestion of financial abuse or pressure".
Mr Quirke said the accused told them that he had paid all money owed for land rented from Ms Treacy.
In April 2017 Mr Quirke discussed with Ms Treacy the possibility that court orders might be sought directed towards ensuring her welfare.
At that meeting it was also decided that Mr Scott should be removed as the first responder on Ms Treacy's personal alarm, which could be activated by a button she wore on a pendant around her neck.
In January 2018 Mr Quirke again raised the possibility with Ms Treacy that she could obtain a court order directed towards ensuring her welfare and he discussed with her the procedure by which that might be done and the benefits it offered.
The trial continues in front of Ms Justice Caroline Biggs and a jury of seven men and eight women.