Michael Scott held a gun while talking about 'troubles' with his aunt, court hears

Michael Scott Held A Gun While Talking About 'Troubles' With His Aunt, Court Hears
Michael Scott photographed at the Criminal Courts of Justice on Tuesday. Photo: Collins.
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Eoin Reynolds

Michael Scott, who denies murdering his aunt Chrissie Treacy, once held a gun while talking about his "troubles with Chrissie" and said: "I hope there's none of them people does cross me," the Central Criminal Court has heard.

Francis Hardiman on Tuesday told Dean Kelly SC, for the prosecution, that the accused said this in front of him some years before Ms Treacy's death. He believed that Mr Scott was referring to the family of Regina Donohue, a close friend of Ms Treacy's.


Mr Scott's relationship with Ms Donohue had been good at one time but deteriorated, the witness said. When asked why the relationship deteriorated, Mr Hardiman said: "It was possibly all over land and leases."

He said that Mr Scott did not hold up the gun but just "left his hand on it".

The trial also heard that, about eight weeks before she died, Ms Treacy suffered "enormous upset" when her dog Bradley "vanished" and never returned.

It is the prosecution case that Michael Scott deliberately ran over his Ms Treacy following a long-running dispute over land.


Mr Scott (58) of Gortanumera, Portumna, Co Galway has pleaded not guilty to her murder on April 27th, 2018 outside her home in Derryhiney, Portumna. The defence says that Ms Treacy's death was a tragic accident.

Regina Donohue on Tuesday told Mr Kelly that she knew the Treacy family from when she had done work experience with them for 12 weeks when she was studying farming. She became close friends with Chrissie and her brothers Willie and Michael and considered them to be "like a new family".

She continued to work with them for many years while running her own farms nearby. "I learned a lot from them," she said. "They had a love of animals and took pride in what they produced - quality milk and quality beef."


Ms Treacy and her brothers farmed about 140 acres at Derryhiney and she came to own another farm at nearby Kiltormer. Following the deaths of Michael and Willie, Michael Scott came to own half the land at Derryhiney and Ms Treacy owned the other half. She leased her land at Kiltormer and Derryhiney to Michael Scott.


By Christmas 2017, Ms Donohue said the deceased made an application through her solicitor to split the land at Derryhiney and put a new lease on the half that she owned. Ms Donohue said it was around this time that Ms Treacy realised that the lease she had with Mr Scott was for 30 acres, rather than the 70 acres she actually owned.

In April 2017, Ms Treacy decided she wasn't getting enough money from Mr Scott for the land at Kiltormer and she asked her agricultural consultant to lease it to someone else.

Ms Treacy's financial situation was "very poor", the witness said, because she was "only getting €2,000 from Mr Scott for the land... Chrissie would have to look for the money when she was running low".

Ms Donohue said the electricity supply to the sheds and dairy farm at Derryhiney was metered at Ms Treacy's home and that Ms Treacy paid the bills. That would change under the terms of the new arrangement Ms Treacy made in 2017, the witness said.


In the late spring of 2017 gardaí were called to Ms Treacy's home. Ms Donohue said there had been damage to fencing and cattle were let out at the Kiltormer land where a new tenant had taken over from Michael Scott. "Chrissy was very stressed and upset over it," she said. "Some of his [the new tenant's] property had been damaged and he had to take his stock out of the land for two weeks for safety. It had a huge impact on her, it upset her immensely."

The witness was aware that gardaí spoke to Ms Treacy and Mr Scott about the damage on the farm. Mr Hardiman, during his evidence, told the court that the accused confided in him that he had been accused of "knocking fences, opening gates and letting out cattle" on the Kiltormer land. Mr Hardiman said the accused told him that he "never went down there" and was upset that he had been accused. Mr Hardiman added: "I presume it was Chrissie who was accusing him."

Missing dog

In February 2018, about eight weeks before she died, Ms Treacy suffered "enormous upset" when her dog Bradley went missing and never returned, Ms Donohue said. "She loved her dog, he was like a child. He was her friend and company when there was nobody there with her."

Ms Treacy's doctor put her on medication for stress and anxiety and Ms Donohue sat up with her until 3.20am the following morning. Ms Donohue tried searching for the dog but he "vanished. He never came back."


Ms Treacy decided to change the locks on her front and back doors. In June 2017, on Ms Treacy's birthday, the witness said she and the deceased went out for a meal and when they returned Mr Scott "stormed in and asked, 'where the f*** were you?'" He said that he had no electricity in the dairy and "stormed through the hall" to flip the switches to turn the electricity back on.

On a snowy night in spring 2018, Ms Donohue recalled that Ms Treacy's oil range heating system stopped working during the night. When someone called the following day they found no fault with the range but the oil had been turned off at the tank in a shed.

Ms Donohue said that she began to avoid Mr Scott but on one occasion in the weeks before Ms Treacy died, she was driving on the main Portumna to Ballinasloe road when Mr Scott, driving his jeep, "came straight for me". She said his jeep "swung" as she thought he was going to "take the mirror from my jeep". She composed herself and rang a local garda to tell him what had happened.

In the days before Ms Treacy died, the witness read a letter from Mr Scott's solicitor saying that Ms Treacy had agreed to sign a lease with him for the land at Derryhiney. Ms Treacy's solicitor wrote a letter in response saying that Ms Treacy was not signing the lease.

At around that time Ms Treacy asked her solicitor to draw up papers making Ms Donohue her next of kin. Ms Donohue said: "It was just that I would be able to get access to Ms Treacy at all times. She feared that Mr Scott would prevent me from having access to her."

Deteriorating health

In the years prior to her death, Ms Treacy's health had deteriorated. Ms Donohue said she had rheumatoid arthritis in her right knee, low blood pressure and used inhalers to help her breathe. She could walk without a walking stick but not very far. She would use the stick if she was in the yard at the back of her home, she said.

Ms Treacy also wore a panic button around her neck and would always have her mobile phone on her. If she was at home and wanted to speak to Mr Scott, Ms Donohue said she would go to the back door and wave to get his attention. She would then sit and wait for him to come to the house. "She wouldn't go out into the yard," Ms Donohue said.

On the day that Ms Treacy died, Ms Donohue received a phone call from Francis Hardiman saying that Chrissie had been involved in a machinery accident.

When Ms Donohue arrived at the farm she first saw Mr Scott "sitting on his hunkers with his head in his hands". To the right she saw Ms Treacy on the ground. She went and knelt down beside her and then started "screaming and shouting at Mr Scott". She said she "wanted to get at him" but Mr Hardiman held her back. "I kicked Francis to let me go but he held onto me tight."

Gardaí arrived shortly after that, she said.

Ms Donohue noted what she said were "unusual" things at the scene. A bucket for a loader was in a part of the yard where machinery would never be kept, she said. Also, when she saw Ms Treacy on the ground she noticed she was not wearing her body warmer or jacket. "She never leaves the house without either on her," she said.

Mr Hardiman agreed with Mr Kelly that over the years the accused would come to him with problems about work and farming or land. On one occasion Mr Scott spoke to him about a dispute over a lease on farmland and asked Mr Hardiman to come with him to a meeting about the dispute.

Mr Hardiman said the accused wanted his support because he "wouldn't understand what the solicitor was talking about and might get frustrated." When Mr Kelly asked if the accused had a temper, Mr Hardiman replied: "He would get frustrated over things that would go wrong for him." He said the temper would "blow over".

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Three years before Ms Treacy died, the witness had a conversation with Mr Scott about problems he was having with Ms Treacy. He was trying to get her to continue the lease and was afraid that if he didn't get the lease by a certain deadline, he wouldn't be able to continue with the number of cows he was currently keeping in his dairy herd. He was concerned about his livelihood, Mr Hardiman said.

Mr Hardiman also remembered that the accused would carry a gun in his jeep but added that a lot of farmers would carry a gun. On one occasion when Mr Scott was telling Mr Hardiman about his "troubles with Chrissy" he "left his hand on the gun and said: "I hope there's none of them people does cross me."

The witness understood Mr Scott to have been referring to Ms Donohue and her family. Mr Scott's relationship with Ms Donohue had been good at one time but deteriorated. When asked why the relationship deteriorated, Mr Hardiman said: "It was possibly all over land and leases."

The trial continues on Wednesday in front of Ms Justice Caroline Biggs and a jury of seven men and eight women.

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