A 60-YEAR-old single farmer from Macroom was told by Judge James McNulty that his ‘animal welfare days are over’ after he handed him down a three-month suspended sentence for allowing the carcass of a dead horse to remain unburied on his land.
Michael Gerard Keohane, Derrygroe, Macroom, appeared at a recent sitting of Bandon District Court to face charges over the neglect of an animal.
The court was told that the defendant has previous convictions for cruelty to animals in 2013, where he was given a conditional discharge of three years.
Solicitor Patrick Gould said his client is a single man who lives alone and his main source of income was from farm assistance and that his holding has diminished.
‘He had fallen into the arms of vultures due to his borrowings and his debt was sold between lenders and also he has a history of depression,’ said Mr Gould.
Judge McNulty said that there was shame in the defendant’s conduct to animals and that he has re-offended again.
‘There was at one stage a restriction imposed on him not to keep bovine animals and now he’s neglecting horses,’ said Judge McNulty.
Mr Gould said that once the offence was detected by officials from the Dept of Agriculture, there has been no question of his client continuing to have animals and he complied within 10 days with their guidelines.
Judge McNulty asked Mr Gould if the defendant needed to keep horses and he said he didn’t, and said that the short time his client spent in prison was shocking for him and that he doesn’t want to go back.
Judge McNulty said the offence was a case of serious cruelty to animals and the fact the defendant allowed the animal to be unburied could have caused a risk of disease and a risk to human health.
‘That’s an appalling thing to allow to happen, but to allow it to happen more than once is worse,’ said Judge McNulty.
‘The court will deal with it on a suspended sentence which is best understood by someone who has been to prison,’ he told the solicitor.
Judge McNulty said he would suspend the three month sentence for two years on condition that the defendant keeps the peace, be of good behaviour and he added a further condition that the defendant will not, without the approval of the court, be able to keep or allow to be placed on his land, any bovine or equine animals.
‘No buffalos and nothing bigger than a dog or cat. His animal welfare days are over,’ added Judge McNulty.