The jury in the trial of a farmer accused of murdering his aunt in a land dispute has been shown “distressing” photographs of the deceased lying on the ground with tractor tyre marks across her legs.
Garda Geraldine Doheny told prosecution counsel Conall MacCarthy BL that she took photos of the scene where the body of 76-year-old Christine ‘Chrissie’ Treacy had been found outside her home on a farm in Co Galway.
In one photograph Gda Doheny said the deceased can be seen lying on a concrete pavement with the tractor or teleporter that had been driven by the accused behind her.
The witness said tyre impressions can be seen on Ms Treacy’s blue slacks.
It is the prosecution’s case that Ms Treacy was run over deliberately by her nephew, Michael Scott, following a long-running dispute over land.
Mr Scott (58), of Gortanumera, Portumna, Co Galway, has pleaded not guilty to her murder on April 27th, 2018. The jury heard on Thursday that the defence says her death was a “tragic accident”.
Det Sgt David Conway told Mr MacCarthy that he also took photographs at the scene, including a photo of the clothing the deceased was wearing, noting the tyre impressions on her trousers.
Under cross-examination, Det Sgt Conway agreed with defence counsel Mícheál P O’Higgins SC that one of the images was a “distressing photo” of the lower half of Ms Treacy’s body. He further agreed that the windows of the tractor driven by the accused were “very dirty”.
Before the first witness was called on Thursday morning, Ms Justice Caroline Biggs told the jury that the defence’s case is that Ms Treacy’s death was a tragic accident while the prosecutions 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”.
For a killing to be murder, she said, a jury must be satisfied that the accused killed the deceased and that at the time they intended to kill or cause serious injury.
Ms Justice Biggs said she wanted certain legal principles to be at the forefront of the jurors’ minds throughout the trial.
The accused, she said, is entitled to the presumption of innocence, which stays with him “until such time, if it arises, that you find him guilty”.
She said from that it follows the prosecution has the burden of proving every aspect of the case, including that the accused committed the act of killing and his intention at the time.
She added: “They must prove each and every ingredient to the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt.”
The trial continues in front of Ms Justice Biggs and a jury of seven men and eight women.