Michael Scott found guilty of manslaughter of his aunt Chrissie Treacy

Galway farmer had pleaded not guilty to murder after he struck aunt with teleporter outside her home in 2018

Michael Scott has been found not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter, for the killing of his 76-year-old aunt Chrissie Treacy, who died after she was run over by a teleporter driven by her nephew.

The jury of six men and six women took just under 15 hours to reach their verdict that he killed his aunt out of gross negligence when reversing across a yard outside her home.

Scott, who was remanded on continuing bail, will be sentenced on June 12th.

Scott (58) of Gortanumera, Portumna, Co Galway had pleaded not guilty to murdering his aunt Christina ‘Chrissie’ Treacy outside her home in Derryhiney, Portumna, Co Galway on April 27th, 2018.


The prosecution case was that Scott deliberately reversed over Ms Treacy following a long-running dispute over land. Scott’s lawyers said that her death was a tragic accident.

Ms Justice Caroline Biggs previously told the jury that there is no doubt that 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 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 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.

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, 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 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, 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.

Disappearance of dog

The jury in Michael Scott’s trial did not hear evidence that Chrissie Treacy told “the entire community” that Michael Scott was responsible for the disappearance of her beloved dog, Bradley.

During a pre-trial hearing without the jury present, prosecution counsel Dean Kelly SC told the court that following Bradley’s disappearance in February 2018, about two months before she died, Ms Treacy told “the entire community that her dog was gone, she was tremendously upset and squarely blamed Scott for the departure or death of the dog”.

The trial heard that Bradley, an overweight Jack Russell who slept on a cushion on the couch or in a bed under the range in Chrissie’s kitchen, was like a child to Ms Treacy and she was so devastated at his disappearance that she required medication.

Days after Bradley went missing, Ms Treacy told her friend Regina Donohue that Scott asked her: “What would it be worth to you to get the dog back?” Ms Donohue was not allowed to tell the jury about the question because the trial judge ruled as inadmissible the hearsay statements of the deceased.

Ms Treacy also confided in agricultural consultant Declan McHugh before Bradley’s disappearance that she feared what Scott would do to her or to the dog. During the same hearing, Mr Kelly outlined a statement by Mr McHugh that Ms Treacy “feared for her life and for her dog, Bradley”.

Ms Justice Caroline Biggs ruled that witnesses could say what they perceived from Ms Treacy’s demeanour and if they directly witnessed abuse by Scott. But they could not tell the jury what Ms Treacy had told them as that would be hearsay and is therefore inadmissible.

The jury was also unaware that on the first day that Ms Donohue gave evidence, as she was leaving the witness box Scott called her a “c**t” as she walked past him.

Scott did not deny saying it and his barrister Paul Greene SC accepted it was “wholly inappropriate, wrong and shouldn’t have happened”. He said he had made Scott aware of his obligations as a person on bail on a murder charge and asked the court not to revoke his bail because of the difficulties that would create for the defence team in providing advice to Scott and receiving instructions.

Ms Justice Caroline Biggs told Mr Scott: “Calling anyone a name like that is disgraceful; you should be ashamed of yourself. You are a very foolish man; on bail for a murder charge. I was going to put you into custody because I have a duty to protect witnesses in this court and ensure they are treated with respect and courtesy.”

She did not put him in custody because of the appeals by his lawyer, but the judge warned Scott: “If you do that again, if you look at a witness to intimidate them or treat them with disrespect, you will go into custody regardless of the repercussions.”

When Ms Donohue returned to the stand, the judge apologised to her for the insult and said: “I’m sorry that you had to experience that. Giving evidence is difficult enough without having to deal with that insult.”

During legal argument early on in the trial, Scott’s then lead counsel Mícheál P O’Higgins SC (who was nominated to the High Court bench during the trial) revealed a number of concerns he had about details contained in the statements of witnesses who were to give evidence in the trial.

In particular, counsel referred to a “historical allegation” that Scott “took efforts to frustrate efforts” by his uncle Willie Treacy to attend a solicitor’s office to make a will about two weeks before Willie Treacy died. The allegation was contained in the statement of an agricultural consultant who had worked with the Treacy family for many years. Having died intestate, Willie’s share of the Derryhiney land was split between his one surviving sister, Chrissie Treacy, and the children of his deceased sister, Maureen - Michael Scott’s mother. The Scott siblings entered an arrangement whereby Michael Scott ended up in joint ownership of the Derryhiney land with his aunt, Chrissie.