Suspended jail sentence for ‘horrific’ animal cruelty

A judge has ordered the confiscation of a herd of donkeys from a farmer who was convicted of animal cruelty yesterday.

Judge Olann Kelleher described as “horrific and alarming” the condition of some of the animals who were photographed on Tim Murphy’s land at Castlemcauliffe, Newmarket, Co Cork, in Jan 2011.

“These animals were in a terrible condition,” he said.

Murphy, who pleaded guilty to one count of neglect to the point of cruelty in relation to a herd of donkeys at his land between Jan 12 and 14, 2011, and to one count of failing to comply with Department of Agriculture animal-testing regimes, was before Mallow District Court for an update on the case.

However, the court was told he had failed to comply with several recommendations issued by the department’s veterinary inspectors in relation to the donkeys and a herd of 15 mature and “dangerous” bulls.

Judge Kelleher said he had considered imposing a custodial sentence given the “horrific situation” the donkeys were in, and because Murphy had failed to live up to his previous undertakings. He convicted Murphy of animal cruelty and imposed a four-month suspended jail sentence, ordered the confiscation of the donkeys, and put a stay of eight weeks on the destruction of the bulls. He allowed Murphy to retain two non-breeding donkeys.

Frank Nyhan, prosecuting, told the court that the donkeys were kept locked up in a shed. While there was water and feed on site, the feeding regime was “spasmodic”, he said.

Department of Agriculture veterinary inspector, Ted Curtin, said they had visited Murphy’s land between 15 and 20 times over the last two years.

He said recommendations they had issued in relation to the donkeys had not been complied with.

He said inspectors had concerns for the health and safety of the donkeys inside the shed, where bedding was described as inadequate and the floor was covered in dung.

Bernard O’Neill, the welfare manager at Liscarroll donkey sanctuary, said the animals had no freedom to express themselves through normal patterns of behaviour, and had no opportunity to browse or graze on open fields.

He said the sanctuary was willing to accept the animals, pending the outcome of certain blood tests.

Mr Curtin also said department recommendations in relation to the bulls, including one that the animals be castrated, had not been complied with.

Murphy told the court he just did not get around to complying with all the recommendations.

He insisted the donkeys were kept indoors during bad weather, and were let out in fine weather, but accepted they were kept inside the shed over the last two days — two of the hottest days of the year.

He said the bulls posed no danger to the public and that he intended to sell them.

“I would like if they put on more condition to make the best possible price.”

Judge Kelleher said the case had been before the court four times, and that Murphy had given various undertakings.

“You haven’t done any of them, except to clean up the shed. I gave you four chances and you didn’t do the work.”


Frits Potgieter is General Manager with Muckross Park Hotel and Spa.You've Been Served: Frits Potgieter, Muckross Park Hotel and Spa

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