Farmer’s heart and liver ‘torn from body’

By Anne Lucey, In Tralee

A 73-year-old Kerry tillage farmer died from polytrauma “with total avulsion of the heart and liver” due to multiple penetrating wounds, pathologist Margot Bolster told a jury in in Tralee where a neighbouring farmer is being tried for his murder.

Michael Ferris, of Rattoo, Ballyduff, Co Kerry, aged 63, has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court in Tralee to the murder of John Anthony O’Mahony aged 73, of Ardoughter, Ballyduff, at Rattoo on April 4, 2017.

Dr Margot Bolster spent up to an hour at the Central Criminal Court yesterday detailing the “gaping” and penetrating wounds on the body of Anthony O’Mahony as the result of what she said were injuries consistent with being inflicted by the prongs of a teleporter.

On April 4, accompanied by Listowel Supt Dan Keane, she visited the scene on the narrow road at Rattoo which leads to a historic ruined abbey and one of the finest round towers in the country.

[timgcap]Michael Ferris: Not guilty plea to murder. Picture: Domnick Walsh]MichaelFerrisKerryCourtCaseOct18_large.jpg[/timgcap]

The body of an elderly man was in the car with his seat belt partially around him, his head slumped on his chest, Dr Bolster said. There was a large amount of broken glass and the dashboard was driven over his legs. A large portion of his bowel could be seen protruding from his shirt. The seatbelt had been torn, Dr Bolster said.

There was a large gaping hole in the windscreen, two gaping holes on the roof and another on the side of the bonnet. The left door was partially driven in and the back door of the car pushed out. There was an unloaded double-barrel shotgun and cartridges in the boot of the car. Further down the road was a teleporter with two prongs sticking out and there was blood and smearing on both prongs.

On removal of the man’s body his lacerated liver could be seen in the front well of the driver’s seat, and his lacerated heart was between the side of the door and the driver’s seat. A half set of dentures was under the seat.

There were multiple injuries and fractures and “gaping wounds”; one of the wounds had gone right through the skull and brain tissue could be seen; there were injuries to the mouth, abrasions to the limbs, multiple fractures of the pelvis, injury to the groin, injury to the lungs. There were at least five penetrating wounds — two of the wounds had gone right through the body, to the back, the pathologist said.

At one point Dr Bolster said the liver had been “totally avulsed or torn, totally pulped and found externally, that is outside the body”. Death would have been immediate, she said in conclusion.

Earlier, Swiss-Irish national, Michael Schumacher, gave evidence of how he and his wife had bought the house closest to the ancient Rattoo Tower six years ago. 

The Schumachers use the holiday home up to six times a year. He described how Michael Ferris was a very quiet man and a good neighbour and how Mr Ferris had arrived at his door to welcome them with a bag of meat.

In August 2016, two minutes after they arrived his wife went to the window to look at the round tower, as she always did. There was a very loud noise. Within three minutes there was another such bang. This was the crow banger (bird scaring device), which had been placed within metres of the side of their house.

They went to Mr O’Mahony’s house at Ardoughter. It was tea time and he barely opened the door to them and was “not pleasant,” Mr Schumacher said.

However, he did move the banger to around 50m further away, and although this was not ideal it was better.

The Schumacher’s tried to thank Mr O’Mahony, but he became so angry, he was red in the face “frothing at the mouth” and they feared he would get a heart attack.

The encounter upset his wife so much she was sick that evening and had to vomit, Mr Schumacher said.

“I could not get through to him to see how we had a problem with the banger,” Mr Schumacher said at one point.

The trial will continue on Tuesday. 

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