Jury can return majority verdict in trial of Co Galway farmer accused of murdering aunt

Michael Scott (58) has pleaded not guilty and argues he ran over Chrissie Treacy with a farm machine by accident

The jury in the trial of Co Galway farmer Michael Scott, who denies murdering his aunt by running over her with an agricultural teleporter, can return a majority verdict if 10 of the 12 members agree, a judge has said.

The panel of six men and six women 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 they had not, Ms Justice Caroline Biggs said the time had come when the court would accept a majority verdict.

“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,” she said in the Central Criminal Court on Wednesday.


The judge further told the jury that there is a “prospect of a disagreement but we are not there yet”.

No rush

She said that if there is a need, she will instruct them in relation to a disagreement at a later stage. 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 a fifth day of deliberations.

Mr Scott (58), of Gortanumera, Portumna, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Christina ‘Chrissie’ Treacy outside her home in Derryhiney, Portumna 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 had caused his aunt’s death, but for a guilty of 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 Ms Treacy.

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 heard that Mr Scott told gardaí 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.

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, Mr Scott came to own half the land at Derryhiney, with Ms Treacy owning the other half. She leased her land at Kiltormer and Derryhiney to Mr Scott.

Witness Regina Donohue has told the trial that by Christmas 2017, her friend Ms Treacy had made an application through her solicitor to split the land at Derryhiney. On the day that she 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.