Con Twomey, aged 68, from Coachford, Co Cork, had denied the charge that he dishonestly by deception induced Noreen O’Mahony into paying him €200 for cremating her dog, Emily, with the intention of making a gain for himself and causing her a loss, between January 31 and February 24 last year.
At Macroom District Court this week, Judge James McNulty said Mr Twomey had admitted in a statement to gardaí that he made a mistake by not labelling the dog’s remains.
However, the judge said that Mr Twomey made matters worse in a “ham-fisted way” by buying a casket with the dog’s name on a plaque and presenting it to Ms O’Mahony with what he purported to be Emily’s ashes.
The judge said that to order a small wooden casket and “dress it up with a tacky plaque” and present to the owner was “inexcusable”, and that while the actions were well-meaning, they were deeply deceitful.
However, he said the State had failed to prove intent and he dismissed the charge against Mr Twomey.
Ms O’Mahony told the court that when her Belgian shepherd dog, Samson, was put down in 2015 by another vet, he was cremated by a Co Kerry firm and she received a casket with the dog’s name on it, as well as a certificate stating that it contained his ashes.
When Emily, a 10-year-old Belgian shepherd, got sick a year later, Mr Twomey diagnosed that the dog had eaten rat bait and would not survive.
They agreed to have Emily put down and Mr Twomey promised to cremate her for a fee of €200.
However, when Ms O’Mahony collected the casket some weeks later, she noticed that it, and the bag with ashes, were much smaller and lighter than those she had received for Samson. She said Mr Twomey became “very agitated and shifty” when she questioned him about the matter.
The court was told that he first told Ms O’Mahony the Co Kerry company had done “a very unprofessional job and had only returned partial ashes”, before he later changed his story to say that Emily had been sent to a company in North Cork for cremation.
But when Ms O’Mahony rang that firm, they told her they were an animal waste disposal firm, and didn’t do cremations.
The court heard that in a statement to now-retired Garda Flor McCarthy on March 23, 2016, Mr Twomey admitted that he had failed to label Emily’s body when he put it in a freezer.
He said the remains were given to the animal disposal firm by mistake when they called to collect other remains.
He said that when he realised his mistake, he ordered a casket, and a name plaque with Emily’s name on, from the pet cremation firm in Co Kerry, thinking it would suffice.
Mr Twomey said he didn’t want to upset the O’Mahonys by telling them about the mistake.
But Ms O’Mahony said: “I was charged €200 by Con Twomey for a cremation that was not done by Pets to Rest.
“I don’t know what is in this bag but I know it is not my dog Emily.
“I could have dealt with the truth — that he made a mistake — but I was lied to and led a merry dance by Con Twomey.”
Judge McNulty said for the State to succeed in this case, it needed to prove that Mr Twomey not only carried out a deception, but that he did so with the intention of making a gain.
He said he believed that the State had failed to prove intent, and therefore, he dismissed the charge against the vet.