Farmer murder trial adjourned after defence barrister nominated as High Court judge

Accused man Michael Scott, of Portumna, Co Galway, lost lead counsel after appointment of Mícheál P O’Higgins SC to the bench

The trial of a farmer accused of murdering his aunt following a long-running dispute over land has been adjourned for two weeks after the senior barrister for the defence was nominated to become a judge.

Ms Justice Caroline Biggs on Wednesday told the jury that, due to the nomination of Mícheál P O’Higgins SC to the High Court bench, accused man Michael Scott has lost his lead counsel. She said that Mr Scott has found an alternative but the new lead counsel will need two weeks to read the papers and take instructions.

Having gone away to consider matters, the jury agreed to make themselves available until May 31st, and to return after the Easter break, if the trial goes beyond the expected time frame.

Ms Justice Biggs said: “All I can say at this stage is to offer my wholehearted thanks on behalf of the parties and myself. This means that a complex trial can come to finality at some point.”


The trial will resume on February 7th but the jury will not be required until February 9th, the judge said.

Mr Scott (58) of Gortanumera, Portumna, Co Galway, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of his aunt Christina ‘Chrissie’ Treacy outside her home in Derryhiney, Portumna on April 27th, 2018. It is the prosecution case that Mr Scott deliberately ran over his aunt in an agricultural teleporter following a long-running dispute over land. The jury has heard it is the defence case that her death was a “tragic accident”.

The trial began last week and was originally expected to take more than two months. A 15-person jury consisting of seven men and eight women was sworn to hear the evidence.