Michael Scott trial: Jury can return majority verdict, judge says

Michael Scott Trial: Jury Can Return Majority Verdict, Judge Says
Michael Scott (58) has pleaded not guilty to murdering Chrissie Treacy outside her home in Derryhiney, Portumna, Co Galway. Photo: Collins
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Eoin Reynolds

The jury in the trial of Michael Scott, who denies murdering his aunt by running over her in an agricultural teleporter, can return a majority verdict if 10 of the six men and six women agree.

The jury had been deliberating for 11 hours and 18 minutes when the court registrar asked if they had reached a verdict on which they all agreed.


When the jury foreman said no, Ms Justice Caroline Biggs said that the time has come when the court will accept a majority verdict. She added: "The system of justice would ask you to strive to achieve a unanimous verdict, and we ask you to continue to try to come to a unanimous verdict. If you can't, you can also return a majority verdict."

The judge further told the jury that there is a "prospect of a disagreement but we are not there yet". She said that if there is a need, she will instruct them in relation to a disagreement at a later stage. She added: "At the minute we ask you to return and continue to do your best to strive to obtain a unanimous verdict or a majority."

She said there is no rush and asked the jury to take their time and let the court know if they need anything.

The jury has gone home for the evening and will return to the Central Criminal Court on Thursday for their fifth day of deliberations.


Mr Scott (58), of Gortanumera, Portumna, Co Galway, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Chrissie Treacy outside her home in Derryhiney, Portumna, Co Galway, on April 27th, 2018. The prosecution case is that Mr Scott deliberately reversed over Ms Treacy following a long-running dispute over land. Mr Scott's lawyers have told the Central Criminal Court that her death was a tragic accident.

Ms Justice Biggs previously told the jury that there is no doubt that Mr Scott was the cause of his aunt's death, but for a murder verdict the jury must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that at the time he ran over her, or the "nanosecond before that," he intended to kill or cause serious injury to her.

If the jury has a reasonable doubt about his intent, if it reasonably could have been an accident, they must acquit him of murder and then consider a verdict of manslaughter.

For a manslaughter verdict, Ms Justice Biggs said the jury must be satisfied that Mr Scott was driving in a "grossly negligent" way. If the prosecution has failed to prove murder or manslaughter to the required standard, Ms Justice Biggs said the jury must acquit.


The trial has heard that Mr Scott told gardaí that he was reversing the teleporter across the yard outside Ms Treacy's home when he felt a "thump" and thought he might have struck a trailer. He said he rolled the machine forward to level ground and when he got out of the cabin he found Ms Treacy lying on the ground.

Jury begins deliberations in trial of Michael Scot...
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The trial also heard that Ms Treacy and her brothers farmed about 140 acres at Derryhiney and that she owned another farm at nearby Kiltormer. Following the deaths of Ms Treacy's brothers, 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.

Witness Regina Donohue has told the trial that by Christmas 2017, the deceased had made an application through her solicitor to split the land at Derryhiney.

On the day that Ms Treacy died, Mr Scott was to receive a letter from an agricultural consultant telling him that Ms Treacy was applying for a single farm payment in respect of certain fields on the Derryhiney farm.

The jury began deliberating last Friday.

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