TWO hunt followers were before Judge Marie Keane at Bandon District Court recently, charged with public order and dog control offences after a pack of dogs invaded a garden near Newcestown.
Eamon Sheehy (37) with an address at Moskeigh, Newcestown and Tony Crowley of Ballymacken, Old Head, Kinsale were before the court following an incident which occurred on November 18th 2018 at the property of Keith Harte and his wife Colette McKenna.
Judge Keane heard evidence that on Sunday morning November 18th up to 20 dogs came into Mr Harte’s garden where they knocked over plant pots and deficated before moving off into a nearby Coillte forestry. However, one dog became entangled and trapped in brambles.
Mr Harte told the court that this was not the first time that he had seen these dogs and when he saw a red Peugeot van approaching on the road outside his garden, he knew that the occupants were part of the hunt, so he hailed the van, which stopped.
Mr Harte said that he was angry and an argument took place with Mr Crowley and then Mr Sheehy, who got out of the van from the passenger side.
Mr Harte told the judge that he felt intimidated because of the ‘highly provocative’ comments made by Mr Sheehy.
Judge Keane was shown a video in which Mr Sheehy is heard to say, ‘I know who you are,’ and ‘I know your history as well,’ and ‘I have your name written down at home.’
In explaining to Judge Keane why he had Mr Harte’s ‘name written down at home’, Mr Sheehy said that he was a member of Fianna Fáil and that he knew 99.9% of the people in the area because he would be canvassing for the upcoming local and European elections.
Both Mr Sheehy and Mr Collins denied the charges and told the court that they were not abusive to Mr Harte and that he was aggressive towards them.
Mr Sheehy said that they were hunt followers, using a GPS to track the dogs. He said that they were not in ‘control of the dogs’, that they would make sure that the dogs could cross the road safely by stopping traffic.
However, Colette McKenna said that she had put herself between her husband and Mr Sheehy because of the heated exchange between the two of them and that she was very concerned at the comments Mr Sheehy made.
Judge Keane said that the comments made by Mr Sheehy were ‘outrageous’. The judge said Keith Harte and Colette McKenna were entitled to a peaceful environment.
‘There has been a complete lack of regards for other people by those involved in the hunt,’ and this was ‘simply unacceptable carry on,’ he added.
Judge Keane said that there was ‘a real sense of entitlement coming across’.
The judge continued by saying that the comments by Mr Sheehy to Mr Harte were ‘outrageous’ and that he had behaved in ‘a most disgraceful way’.
Judge Keane fined Mr Crowley €150 for failing to properly control dogs, and fined Mr Sheehy €200 for the same offence and €100 for a public order offence.