The difficulties between Chrissie Treacy and her nephew Michael Scott around the issue of land became “more apparent” in the 10 weeks before Ms Treacy died, a care worker has told the Central Criminal Court.
t is the State’s case that Mr Scott deliberately drove over his aunt in an agricultural teleporter following a long-running dispute over land. Mr Scott’s defence say that her death was a tragic accident.
Another care worker told the trial that she had concerns for Ms Treacy’s welfare arising out of the ongoing difficulties with Mr Scott and reported those concerns to her coordinator.
Mr Scott (58) of Gortanumera, Portumna, Co Galway has pleaded not guilty to murdering his aunt on April 27, 2018, outside her home in Derryhiney, Portumna.
Cecilia Groves today told Dean Kelly SC for the prosecution that she worked as Ms Treacy’s carer from 2016 until she died in April 2018.
Ms Groves said she knew of the ongoing difficulties between Ms Treacy and Mr Scott and in the spring of 2017 she noted that Ms Treacy was “subdued” and “down on herself” at times during a period when the difficulties between the pair were apparent.
In the 10 weeks before Ms Treacy died, the care worker noted that “those ongoing difficulties between Chrissie Treacy and Mr Scott around the land became more apparent”.
Ms Groves said that her duties were to help Ms Treacy wash and dress, to prepare her meals, make her bed, tidy and sweep her house and count her medication.
Every day she would apply cream to Ms Treacy’s legs which had “very bad arthritis” she said. “She had extremely poor mobility, walked with a limp and would hold onto things to get around the kitchen. Her knee was very painful, she just wasn’t able to walk properly.”
Ms Treacy “loved a chat”, she said, and would always invite her to sit down for a cup of tea. Some days Ms Treacy was “very low” but others she would be “happy in herself”.
She said: “She was a lovely person but when she was down, she was down. She had her full capacity to look after her affairs and she made it quite clear she wanted to look after her affairs.”
The witness got to know Mr Scott as he would often be in the yard where he ran a dairy farm beside Ms Treacy’s home.
Ms Groves said she never saw Ms Treacy in the yard.
On one occasion, when Ms Treacy was “very distressed” over the disappearance of her dog Bradley on February 13, 2018 the witness saw Ms Treacy at the back door. “That was as far as she went,” Ms Groves said.
On the day Bradley went missing, Ms Groves stayed with Ms Treacy until 10.30pm that night because she was so upset. Ms Treacy required anti-depression medication after that, she said.
At 9pm that night Mr Scott came to the house and said that “the dog would be back in the morning; that it was gone chasing sheep and it would be back”.
On the following Thursday Ms Groves met Mr Scott at the milking parlour and he asked if the dog was back. She told him he wasn’t and he said that Bradley was “definitely outside” the day he went missing.
From that time onwards Ms Groves noticed that the ongoing difficulties between Ms Treacy and Mr Scott around the land became more apparent.
About two weeks before Ms Treacy died, a new carer was shadowing Ms Groves at the Derryhiney house. Ms Groves said the accused asked who the new carer was and said he had a right to know because he was Ms Treacy’s next of kin.
Ms Groves recalled an occasion when the accused asked: “How is she in there?” to which Ms Groves replied that Ms Treacy had “been through a hard time” because of the death of her two brothers and her sister. Ms Groves said he replied: “It was nothing compared to what I’ve had; my mother died 30 years ago.”
On June 2, 2016, Ms Groves said she arrived at Ms Treacy’s house but could not get in. She asked Mr Scott to help and he “ranted and raved” but then came to let her in. Inside, she found Ms Treacy “in a very poor condition” in bed. She was later diagnosed with pneumonia.
Under cross-examination the witness agreed with defence counsel Paul Greene SC that Ms Treacy had good days and bad days. She did not agree that Ms Treacy’s depressive symptoms were due to ill-health. She agreed that in her garda statement in April 2018 she said that Ms Treacy was “mobile, she had a limp and it wouldn’t have taken much to knock her over”.
Mary Hanley told Mr Kelly that in her job as a support officer for Family Care Ireland she would visit Ms Treacy once a year to review her care. On March 6, 2018, about six weeks before Ms Treacy’s death, the witness called to Ms Treacy’s home.
Ms Hanley said she became aware of the ongoing difficulties between Ms Treacy and Mr Scott over land. Ms Hanley said that arising from those difficulties she had concerns for Ms Treacy’s welfare and later highlighted those concerns to her coordinator.
Ms Hanley agreed with Mr Greene that Ms Treacy did not want to change her next of kin or leave her current home.
The trial has heard that Ms Treacy and her brothers farmed about 140 acres at Derryhiney and that she came to own 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.
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 and put a new lease on the half that she owned.
On the day that Ms Treacy died, Mr Scott was to receive a letter from an agricultural consultant telling him that Ms Treacy was applying for a single farm payment on the land she owned but had previously leased to Mr Scott.
The trial continues.