On the bench, farmer Michael Scott wept, covering his face with a shaking hand, as he heard a neighbour describe the chaotic scenes that had transpired after he had struck his aunt with a farm vehicle.
is apparent distress in the courtroom continued for several moments.
In the witness box was Francis Hardiman, a tall, elderly man in a green jumper and checked shirt, who told the prosecution he was a neighbour and also the second cousin of Chrissie Treacy (76), the deceased.
Asked by the prosecution if he knew Mr Scott well, he said: “We knew him all our lives.”
It is the prosecution case that Michael Scott deliberately ran over his aunt Christine ‘Chrissie’ Treacy following a long-running dispute over land. Mr Scott (58), of Gortanumera, Portumna, Co Galway, has pleaded not guilty to her murder on April 27, 2018, outside her home in Derryhiney, Portumna.
Judge Caroline Biggs told the jury the defence case is that Ms Treacy’s death was a tragic accident, while the prosecution says it was murder.
She said that what makes a killing murder is the intention at the time and “that is what the focus of the case is”.
In the body of the courtroom the extended family leaned forward in their seats, listening intently to every detail, their faces sombre.
On the day Ms Treacy died, Mr Hardiman told the court he had been in Eyrecourt, some 10km or 12km from Derryhiney, when he received a telephone call from Mr Scott at 3.26pm.
“Francis, are you up around home?” Mr Scott had asked, saying: “I was setting back out with the teleporter and I hit Chrissie. Can you come down to me quick?”
He was very upset, Mr Hardiman said, and after telling him he was on the way, he hung up and phoned his own wife to say that he was going down to Michael Scott and that “something had happened to Chrissie”.
Driving straight to Derryhiney, he went into the yard and found Ms Treacy lying face down on the concrete in the yard, he said, as the barrister brought him through the photographs of the scene and the yellow JCB teleporter.
The shear grab of the vehicle was a couple of metres off the ground, he recalled, explaining to the court that it is an attachment for taking out silage.
“It almost takes it like a bite out of an apple?” suggested prosecution counsel Dean Kelly SC.
“Correct,” Mr Hardiman said.
He ran to Ms Treacy and took her wrist to look for a pulse but could find none.
“I knew her to be a religious person and said an act of contrition for her. I said it into the side of her ear,” he told the court.
Her hands were “pretty smashed up,” and there were tyre marks on her trousers. There was blood around her legs and face but not a lot, he added. “I knew she wouldn’t have been alive because her hand was cold,” he said.
He went to look for Mr Scott and discovered him “in a hysterical way, crying and shouting, sitting inside the wall of one of the sheds”.
He asked him if he had contacted anyone else and when he said no, told him: “OK, we have to contact people and get help here now.”
Mr Scott was still crying, Mr Hardiman added, and he told him he had said a prayer for Ms Treacy, adding: “Chrissie, I think she has passed away.”
At this point, he said, Mr Scott “jumped up and went to his jeep”.
He ran after him but Mr Scott pulled out a double-barrelled shotgun.
He heard Mr Scott repeating, “I can’t live with this”, as he stepped backwards with the gun as Mr Hardiman stepped forward, shouting at him.
“He was getting near where the tyres were on the ground and he tripped over a tyre and lost his balance. I grabbed the gun and broke it and took the cartridge out,” he said.
Mr Scott was “very disturbed. He was very, very, very hard to control. He was still roaring, uncontrollable”.
He kept repeating: “I can’t live with what happened to me.”
From his seat on the bench of the courtroom, Mr Scott was visibly upset.
He covered his face with his hand as he wept while hearing the account of that day five years ago.
Mr Hardiman told the court he had asked Mr Scott if he could contact his wife, Cora, or his brother, Brian, and Mr Scott said: “No, I’m not able.”
However, he eventually threw his phone on the ground and Mr Hardiman was able to get Cora’s number, calling her to say “Chrissie is not well” and she was to come down.
After phoning his own wife, he also rang a neighbour, who had been due to come to bring Ms Treacy to collect her pension. He told the neighbour: “Chrissie fell in the yard and was not that well and to come down.”
Earlier, Ms Treacy’s GP, Dr Raymond Brogan, told the court Ms Treacy had suffered from depression for several years and that she was “a nice lady and a very friendly person”.
The trial continues.