A Co Limerick farmer, who a judge said "put the entire beef industry at risk", will avoid a jail sentence if he pays a €14,500 fine.
Timothy Gleeson, aged 31, of Burranoka, Capamore, was jailed for seven months and fined €14,500 at the District Court in August.
He appealed the jail sentence at Limerick Circuit Court last Tuesday, and when the appeal resumed yesterday, Judge Carroll Moran said the jail sentence would be suspended if the €14,500 fine was paid by December 18.
Judge Moran said Gleeson, who admitted to 10 of more than 75 summons relating to regulations governing the identification of cattle and animal movement, put the entire beef industry at risk by the damage that could be done to its international reputation.
The offences included the use of false documents as part of what was described as an “effort to stay off the Department of Agriculture’s radar”.
During a contested appeal hearing, Department of Agriculture investigations officer John McConville outlined what was previously described as an “elaborate fraud”.
Mr McConville said that there were eight cattle involved, with up to 70 movements that were not properly documented through the department’s bovine traceability system.
Gleeson traded the calves using the herd number of a woman farmer in County Meath who knew nothing of the animals. He also sold calves of a lesser quality claiming that they were of the more valuable Limousin breed. Passports for some of the animals were also brought into question.
Contesting the severity of the jail sentence, Lorcan Connolly, defending counsel, said Gleeson had fallen foul of the regime in place.
The judge said it was a matter of “great concern as it indicated a pattern of offence and an operation to avoid the Department’s monitoring of the movements of animals”.
He said the monitoring process was “a requirement and necessity so that if there was any sudden outbreak of bovine disease, animals can be immediately identified and the necessary measures can take place. These actions undermine the integrity of the control of animal disease in Ireland.”
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