Michael Scott trial - what the jury didn’t hear: Chrissie Treacy feared for her life, friends attested

Trial resulting in conviction of Scott for manslaughter of his aunt heard in absence of jury that she had expressed fears for her life

Chrissie Treacy believed she knew who had taken her beloved dog, Bradley. When neighbours phoned or called in to console their grieving friend she told them who she thought had done it, it was said at a pretrial hearing without jury present.

Before Bradley’s disappearance, she had told a friend, Declan McHugh, that she feared for her life and for Bradley’s life. When she found the dog missing from the locked house, she blamed Michael Scott, she later told friends, through tears and with a voice cracking with the strain, the court was told.

On Thursday, Scott was acquitted of murdering his 76-year-old aunt. After nearly 15 hours of deliberations, the jury unanimously agreed that Scott had acted with gross negligence when he reversed across a yard beside Ms Treacy’s home and drove over her.

Before remanding Scott on continuing bail, the judge noted that during the trial Scott had called one witness a “grotesque” name that she did not want to repeat – a reference to Scott calling witness Regina Donohue, Mrs Treacy’s friend, a “c***.


Ms Donohue had immediately reported it to gardaí. The following day the prosecution drew it to the court’s attention. Scott did not deny saying it and his barrister Paul Greene SC accepted it was “wholly inappropriate, wrong and shouldn’t have happened”.

Chrissie Treacy’s voice could not be heard at Scott’s trial, but during hearings without the jury present the court heard that as far back as April 2017, a year before Ms Treacy’s death, she would regularly call Regina Donohue when she was upset.

She had told friend and agricultural consultant Declan McHugh that she feared for her life and for Bradley’s life due to the difficulties she had with Scott. However, Ms Donohue and Mr McHugh were not allowed to say that at trial.

It was, Ms Justice Biggs said, hearsay and therefore inadmissible. In a ruling delivered without the jury present, she said they could give their observations of Ms Treacy’s demeanour or anything that they directly witnessed, but they could not reveal what Chrissie had told them.

Six months before Ms Treacy died, carer Caitríona Starr said she had come to the front door of the house at Derryhiney and heard Scott shouting and banging on the table. When he saw her, Scott took his leave, muttering something about land under his breath.

From 2016 Health Service Executive officials had told Scott to stop putting financial pressure on Chrissie, while her solicitor had written to Scott numerous times in 2017 to tell him to stop threatening her. The gardaí were called, too, but she did not wish to make a formal complaint.


Scott had worked on the land owned and farmed by his uncles Michael and Willie and his aunt Chrissie at Derryhiney. Michael died in 2006 and left his share to Willie and another 40 acres at Kiltormer to Chrissie. In the early 2010s she leased the 40 acres to Scott.

Willie died in 2009 and did not leave a will. During a hearing without the jury present, Scott’s then lead counsel, Michael P O’Higgins SC, recounted a “colourful but damaging” allegation that Scott had taken steps to frustrate efforts by his uncle Willie to make a will. His uncle had died two weeks later.

The 140 acres he owned at Derryhiney were split between his remaining sister Chrissie and the children of his deceased sister Maureen – Michael Scott and his siblings. The Scotts agreed that Michael Scott would take their share. Scott and Ms Treacy were therefore in joint ownership.

Scott paid his aunt €6,000 every year for her share. On the day Ms Treacy died, Mr Scott was to receive a letter telling him Ms Treacy was applying for a single-farm payment on land she owned but had previously leased to Mr Scott, and that he should not apply for the payment.

Interviewed after his arrest in 2018, Scott said that after knocking down his aunt, he did not think she would die and did not know how to call 999. He had not helped her up off the ground because he would have needed help.

He had called his friend Francis Hardiman, who was in Eyrecourt at 3.26pm, telling Hardiman that he “hit Chrissie”. The accused was clearly upset and asked Mr Hardiman to “come down to me, quick”.

When he arrived, Mr Hardiman saw the deceased lying face down. He checked for a pulse but found none and said an act of contrition into her ear. Her hands were “pretty smashed up,” he said and there were tyre marks on her trousers, with some blood around her legs. He knew she was dead.

Mr Hardiman called gardaí and emergency services and went looking for Scott finding him “in a hysterical way of crying and shouting” inside a shed. Scott “jumped up and went for his jeep and he pulled out a gun, a double-barrel shotgun”, saying: “I can’t deal with this.”

However, he tripped over a tyre and lost his balance, letting Hardiman grab the gun.

Questioned by Det Garda Barry Carolan, Scott said he had got off the JCB teleporter, saying: “Are you all right, Chrissie? Oh God! What misfortune.” She was “breathing heavy”, unable to talk”.

Saying he had not noticed injuries, he told Det Garda Carolan: “I’m not very well up on technology. I didn’t know you could ring an ambulance as well as the fire brigade on 999. I thought you would have to ring the hospital in Ballinasloe and I had no number for a doctor.”

‘Big shock’

Scott denied forcing his aunt to sign over the land. He had not understood why she had gone to a solicitor. His aunt would get confused but he had an understanding that the land would go to him. He realised that Ms Treacy had left the land to Ms Donohue a few months after Ms Treacy died. “It was a very big shock,” he said.

Dr Mark Jordan, an engineer called by the defence, said the suggestion Ms Treacy had been run over twice by the teleporter was “unsupported”. He disagreed with a Garda report suggesting Ms Treacy should have been visible as Scott reversed. A prosecution witness, engineerJohn Hayes, disagreed.

Scott has impaired vision in his right eye, the jury learned. Specsavers optometrist Trina Staunton said Scott’s left eye scored a perfect six out of six but his right eye was much weaker and scored six out of 38. The right eye, she said, was being “ignored by the brain”.

A test carried out by gardaí was not representative, said Dr Jordan, of the circumstances facing Scott as he reversed across a bumpy yard while looking through windows coated in “field stuff, dust and dirt”, with blind zones and the sun hitting the dirt on the back windscreen causing glare.

Some mysteries remain about the death of Chrissie Treacy, not least how she came to be in the yard. Chrissie’s many friends and carers said she did not go into the yard. She never left the house without her body warmer and jacket but when found she was wearing neither.

Her walking stick was in the house. Her neck alarm had not been set off.

In 2017 gardaí were called after damage was done to fencing and cattle on a parcel of land owned by Ms Treacy at Kiltormer where a new tenant had taken over from Scott. “Chrissy was very stressed and upset over it,” said Ms Donohoe.

Gardaí investigated, while Mr Hardiman said Scott had told him that he had been accused of “knocking fences, opening gates and letting out cattle” on the Kiltormer land and that he was upset that he had been wrongly accused.

Ms Treacy changed the house locks. In June 2017 Ms Donohoe and Ms Treacy returned to the house one evening to find Scott angry because dairy lights had gone out. “Where the f*** were you?”, he shouted, she said before he “stormed through the hall” to flip the switches on.

At about that time Ms Treacy asked her solicitor to draw up papers making Ms Donohue her next of kin.

Seeing Ms Treacy on the day of her death, Ms Donohue knelt down beside her “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 on to me tight.”

In his closing address to the jury, prosecution counsel Dean Kelly SC said Scott had reversed over his aunt in a “deliberate act of murder out of a sense of entitlement and for revenge”, telling “big lies, little lies and enormous lies” afterwards.

In his closing speech, defence counsel Paul Greene SC said the defence had raised a reasonable possibility that her death was accidental. In any event, the prosecution has failed to prove its case” to the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.

The evidence, he said, was brought by the prosecution to suggest that Scott had a reason to kill his aunt but, counsel added: “It begs the question, why didn’t he act sooner?”