'It was enough to have her lost': Injured farmer 'backed off' after dog shot dead in suspected dispute over land access

'It was enough to have her lost': Injured farmer 'backed off' after dog shot dead in suspected dispute over land access
John Hayes, 65, who was shot in the shoulder.

A farmer has sustained gunshot wounds in a suspected dispute with another farmer over access to land, writes David Raleigh.

The shooting occurred around 11am in Killballycasey, Kildimo, Co Limerick.

The victim, John Hayes, aged 65, was attempting to gain access to a field when he received a gunshot wound to the shoulder.

The man's dog was also shot dead during the incident.

"It shot in through the window of my tractor and killed my dog inside," he said.

A source said there has been ongoing tensions between landowners in the area over an access route to lands in the area.

It is understood the victim was about to enter his land to cut a field of crops when another farmer approached his tractor armed with a shotgun.

It is understood both men exchanged words before at least one shot was fired into the tractor.

A sheep dog who was traveling in the tractor was shot dead. John Hayes who was in the driver's seat sustained pellet wounds to his shoulder.

Mr Hayes said he retreated from the scene in his tractor as his dog lay dead at his side.

"I backed off out of the way... It was enough to have the dog lost."

Paying tribute to his faithful servant "Lassie", he said: "I have her about eight years. She'd have done anything for me."

"She was my friend only, no one else's. She'd work for no one else, only me."

"She'd always go out with me in the tractor."

"The dog was invaluable, a thousand euro wouldn't buy her. Her grandfathers on each side won the English National."

"I bought her mother initially, but she was too old to work when I got her so I bred Lassie out of her."

"If anyone ever came into the yard she'd charge at them and bark, but I'd say to her to hop into the tractor, and she'd sit into the tractor then."

Mr Hayes was taken by ambulance from the scene to University Hospital Limerick, and treated for a minor gunshot wound.

"It was one shot...from a single barrel shotgun. I didn't get a chance to dive back."

A sister of the injured man said he was "shocked".

"He has a fine laceration to the shoulder. The doctors don't know yet if part of the bullet is still lodged in it," she said.

The man's wife and two children are due to return home later today from a family holiday in Portugal.

"I'll have some news for them. I'm fairly shook up by it," Hayes said.

"I don't know how I'm feeling, maybe the nightmare of it will all come back to me later tonight," he added.

"I was out shopping when I got a phone call from a neighbour to tell me there had been a shooting and the dog was dead," the man's sister said. "I rang my brother and he answered his phone in the ambulance. I started crying."

"He was being very brave but something like this is going to hit him hard later on tonight or tomorrow," she added. "I'm worried for him."

Gardaí have arrested a man in his 70s on suspicion of carrying out the shooting.

Armed gardaí responded to the scene and intercepted a man in a vehicle a few kilometres away in Patrickswell.

"We have one person arrested for questioning. He was arrested under the Offences Against the State Act and he's being held under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act," a spokesman said.

Meanwhile, a source said there had been a long-running dispute between landowners in the area "for generations".

"It's a right of way issue," they said.

The victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Limerick for non life-threatening injuries.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Newcastle West Garda Station.

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