The Co Mayo farmer who is charged with the murder of a Traveller from Galway told the Central Criminal Court in Castlebar today that he never intended to kill him and was sorry for what he did.

61-year-old Padraig Nally, of Funshinaugh, Cross said he believed his 'mind was gone' when he shot father of 11 John Ward, from Carrowbrowne, Galway at his farmhouse on 14 October 2004.

Mr Nally, who began giving evidence at the court yesterday, denies the murder of Mr Ward.

He told the fourth day of his trial that he had been living in fear for the five months before the fatal shooting, and that he often sat in his shed with a loaded shotgun for up to five hours at a time. The gun belonged to his father and had been in the house for 65 years. 

He said he was afraid of being broken into and killed in his bed. He often only slept a few hours at night and the pressure was almost unbearable. 

On the day Mr Ward came into his farmhouse Mr Nally got the gun from the shed and as he confronted him at the back door, it went off accidentally. He said he did not aim at Mr Ward and his hand was shivering as the trigger went off.

The defendant said Mr Ward took the gun off him and tried to hit him with it but he got it back. And in an ensuing scuffle he hit Mr Ward at least ten blows with a stick. 

He then reloaded the gun and followed Mr Ward down the road and fired a second shot at him. Mr Nally said he meant to frighten the Traveller and the shot accidentally hit him. 

The accused said he believed his mind was gone at the time and he was sorry for doing it. He said he never intended to shoot anyone in his life and it just happened on the spur of the moment.

Mr Nally said he was in such a state that he reloaded the gun and for a time he thought of taking his own life. 

The trial is continuing.