The son of a man shot dead in Co Mayo in October 2004 has told the Central Criminal Court he and his father had called to a farmhouse to see if a car in the driveway might be for sale.
20-year-old Tom Ward from Carrowbone Halting Site in Galway was giving evidence in the trial of 62-year-old Padraig Nally who has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of John 'Frog' Ward near the village of Cross on 14 October 2004.
Tom Ward told the court he was the fourth eldest in a family of eleven, and that on the day his father was killed, he and his father had been out for a drive looking for cars to buy.
He said he followed his father’s directions as they drove and that he had never been to Padraig Nally's house before.
He said he had reversed the car into the driveway, and waited in the car as his father went up the driveway to the house.
He said a man whom he today identified in court as Padraig Nally walked up to him and asked 'who has gone in there?'
Tom Ward said Padraig Nally walked towards the back of the house.
Mr Ward said he heard a gunshot, and he panicked and drove up the road.
He said he then drove to Headford Garda station and asked a garda to follow him back to the house.
Under cross-examination, Tom Ward said that following his father’s death, he had tried to commit suicide. He described trying to drive his car into a river in Galway.
When it was put to him that he had injured other people in this incident, he said ‘I think one other person was injured.’
He told the court that at the time of the his death, his father had been on ‘a lot of medication’ for ‘nerves’, and that he said he ‘heard voices’.
Tom Ward denied a suggestion that his father was a bare knuckle boxer, and he said he had no knowledge of a suggestion his father had threatened a garda with a slashhook.
Tom Ward said that on the evening of 13 October 2004 he had bought the car he and his father had travelled in to Padraig Nally's house the following day.
He said he had bought it from other Travellers, but he declined to give the court any names.
Padraig Nally's barrister had earlier stated a car bearing a similar description had previously been seen in the vicinity of Cross a short distance from where a chainsaw was reported stolen.
Tom Ward said he was unaware his father had approximately 80 convictions from 38 separate court appearances.
Brendan Grehan SC asked Mr Ward if he was aware his father had convictions for burglary, larceny and assault.
Tom Ward told the court he did not have knowledge of these issues.
When asked if he was aware of an incident in which his father attacked a car with a slash-hook while a woman and two children were inside, Tom Ward said he remembered that this related to an incident where his father had witnessed a man exposing ‘his manhood’ and urinating.
Tom Ward said he had no memory of an incident in May 2004 where his father had threatened gardaí.
When asked about another incident in April 2002 where John Frog Ward threatened Gardaí with a slash-hook, Tom Ward said his father had a lot of alcohol taken that day.
He said he was unaware that, at the time of his death, his father had four bench warrants outstanding for his arrest.
Tom Ward told the court he is currently serving an eleven-month sentence for possessing a knife and for theft. He said this was because he turned to drink and drugs after his father's death.
He denied a suggestion by Padraig Nally's barrister that he and his father had gone to Mr Nally's home as part of ‘a criminal enterprise’.
When the case began on Monday, the jury of eight men and four women were told they would hear during the trial of the suspicion of Padraig Nally that the deceased was ‘up to no good’ and was at the farmhouse to commit burglary or steal from some part of the farmyard.
John 'Frog' Ward died after being shot and beaten.