The family of a farmer killed in a row between neighbours in Kerry have hit out at the sentence handed down to the man convicted of his manslaughter.
The sister-in-law of Anthony O’Mahony (73) said the five year sentence imposed on Michael Ferris (63) sends a message that “life is not worth anything anymore in this country”.
Ms Justice Carmel Stewart said Mr O’Mahony suffered a "gruesome" and "horrific" attack when Ferris drove the prongs of an agricultural machine into the victim’s car on the morning of April 4 2017.
Ferris had told the court that he “snapped” following a long-running dispute over the use of a ‘crow banger’ - a device that emits gunshot sounds and is used to scare birds.
Last month, a jury found Ferris not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter by a majority verdict of ten to two.
Today he was given a six year prison sentence, with the final year suspended.
Speaking after today’s sentencing, Mr O’Mahony’s sister-in-law Margaret O’Mahony hit out at the length of the prison term and at the manner in which the victim was portrayed during the trial.
She said Mr O’Mahony was an honest man with an interest in horse racing, football, hurling, politics and current affairs.
“I cannot believe it, it just makes us feel like life is not worth anything anymore in this country, that a person can do that to another person and get such a lenient sentence, I can’t understand it,” she told RTE Radio 1’s Liveline.
She said the description of Anthony in the court did not match the man she knew.
“It was very, very nasty. He was depicted as almost being a terrorist, that the people of the area were living in fear of him. Nothing could be further from the truth. We've spoken to so many people that said if only if their voices could have been heard - it was totally different person they knew,” she said.
“He was the most honorable person, straightforward and he knew what was right, what was wrong and he did what was right all the time.”
She rejected claims that the crow banger had been on continually for months on end, and said it has been in operation for just three days before the incident. She said she was not aware of any complaints from neighbours.
Ms O’Mahony also recalled how she learned of her brother-in-law’s death.
“My son got a phone call on the morning, that some incident had happened and he went over to find out what was after happening there. The road was closed so he couldn't go down and he spoke with some of the fire brigade people and the guards.
“He got no information, so he went to Anthony’s home and Anthony’s car was not there, he rang his two numbers and got no reply. We were concerned at that point that something had happened to him.
“He came back home here to me. We were having a cup of tea wondering what might have happened and we had the local radio station turned on. I said “there's something on the radio”. I couldn't hear it and I turned it up.
“I just heard “the body of a man at the scene”, and I said “there’s somebody dead, whoever it is”. Next thing our phone rang and it was somebody with condolences. That’s how we heard it,” she said.
She rejected any suggestion that the late Mr O’Mahony was a ‘difficult’ man and said that while he was in poor health, he was no more irritable because of it.
“He was a straightforward, honest to goodness man who'd never harmed anybody and would never ever harm anybody. He knew what was right and what was wrong.
“The use of the crow banger was well within the law he only used it during daylight hours, as he was fully entitled to do. There was nothing wrong with what he was doing,” she said.
She said he did not deliberately place the crow banger near neighbouring houses, but close to where birds were attracted to the land and “that was it”.
VIDEO Ann O’Carroll says family can’t believe Michael Ferris was acquitted of murdering her uncle Anthony O’Mahony and feel the five year sentence handed down for his manslaughter didn’t go far enough. pic.twitter.com/UnjvbthutD— Frank Greaney (@FrankGreaney) December 3, 2018