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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -2°C
SASKO LAZAROV/ROLLINGNEWS.IE File image of Michael Scott.
Chrissie Treacy

Michael Scott to be sentenced later this month for manslaughter of his aunt

He had gone on trial accused of her murder but the jury returned a unanimous verdict acquitting him of that charge.

MICHAEL SCOTT SUBJECTED his elderly aunt Chrissie Treacy to “verbal abuse and mental torture” before he caused her death by driving over her, a friend of Ms Treacy’s has told the Central Criminal Court.

Regina Donohue gave a statement today at a sentencing hearing for Scott, who was convicted earlier this year of the manslaughter of his aunt through gross negligence when he drove over her in an agricultural teleporter outside her home.

He had gone on trial accused of her murder but the jury returned a unanimous verdict, acquitting him of that charge.

Scott will spend his first night in prison tonight having been remanded in custody until Ms Justice Caroline Biggs passes sentence on 26 June.

At today’s hearing, the Director of Public Prosecutions said that Scott’s offence falls within the mid-category for manslaughter and should carry a headline sentence of four to ten years.

Paul Greene SC, on behalf of Scott, said that the offence falls into the lower category.

Mr Greene said the issues to be considered are the roadworthiness of the teleporter and Scott’s failure to keep a proper lookout when reversing.

Counsel also pointed out that Scott has no previous convictions and that psychological and probation reports state that while he is “not in the highest rank of intelligence”, Mr Scott has expressed regret and displayed an awareness of the harm he caused.

Mr Greene said his client has been described as a “pariah” in his community and he asked the court to consider the impact that will have on his life.

Counsel accepted there was a “high degree” of negligence in Scott’s driving but he asked the court to also consider that it was unusual for Ms Treacy to be in the yard where she was struck.

Ms Justice Biggs said she will be considering a number of issues in sentencing, including “a number of self-serving lies” that Scott told to gardaí.

She said she will consider whether Scott was truly remorseful and genuine during his garda interviews and she noted that he said he didn’t call emergency services because he didn’t know that he could ring 999 to summon an ambulance.

Scott (59) of Gortanumera, Portumna, Co Galway had pleaded not guilty to murdering his aunt Christina ‘Chrissie’ Treacy (76) outside her home in Derryhiney, Portumna, Co Galway on April 27, 2018.

The prosecution case was that Scott deliberately reversed over Ms Treacy following a long-running dispute over land.

The trial heard that the Health Service Executive and gardai had been informed of concerns regarding Ms Treacy’s welfare due to her relationship with Scott.

The jury were told 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, Michael 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 Michael Scott.

In early 2017, Mr Scott did not bid to continue leasing the land from Ms Treacy in Kiltormer when it went up for auction.

Ms Donohue told the trial that by Christmas 2017, the deceased had made an application through her solicitor to split the land at Derryhiney and put a new lease on the half that she owned.

On the day of Ms Treacy’s death Scott received a letter from an agricultural consultant telling him not to claim payments for parcels of land on the farm he jointly owned with his aunt.

Scott told gardai that he was not concerned about the letter and drove to the yard outside his aunt’s home to do some work on the farm.

He said he was reversing across the yard when he felt a “thump”, thought he might have hit a trailer and moved the teleporter forward to level ground.

He said that when he got down from the cabin, he saw his aunt lying on the ground. He described her death as a tragic accident.

In her statement to the court, Ms Donohue said that her “great friend and neighbour was needlessly robbed of her life by the reckless actions of Michael Scott”.

She said that since Ms Treacy’s death she has discovered the “absolute disregard” Scott had for his aunt.

She then described the background to a land row between Ms Treacy and Scott which Ms Donohue first learned of in late 2016.

Later in her statement Ms Donohoe said she was “broken-hearted” for Chrissie, and that she first got to know her friend when she served time on the Treacy farm while studying for her apprenticeship.

The Treacy family became like family and “Chrissie treated me like the daughter she never had and I looked up to her as if she was my second mother.

“As female farmers we had a huge mutual respect for each other and I never will forget Chrissie for that.”

Mr Treacy left her lands, including the lands that she shared with Michael Scott, to Ms Donohoe. 

Ms Donohoe added in her statement: “My dear friend Chrissie may be physically gone but her memory will live with me for as long as I live.”

She said her friend is at peace now “shielded from the abuse and mental torture” visited on her by Michael Scott.

On behalf of the community, Ms Donohue added: “We say, as one, go rest in peace my dear and much-loved friend.”