Dundalk man (27) convicted of multiple charges of animal cruelty
A DUNDALK man has been told that he can never again look after an animal after he was convicted of several charges of animal cruelty which were described by the presiding judge as the worst he had seen in 13 years as a District Court judge.
Marc Finnegan (27), Readypenny, Dundalk was convicted of five counts of cruelly mistreating an animal to the extent that the animal had to be euthanized.
He was also convicted of another charge of letting a carcass remain unburied and accessible to a dog contrary to the Control of Dogs Act.
When shown picture of the animals involved in the case, Judge Sean MacBride said “My God” and told the court that he had never seen such cruelty in all his years as a District Court Judge.
The court heard how over a number of weeks a vet from the Department of Agricultire, Ms Eileen O’Neill visited the farm of Finnegan at Drumaleave, Inniskeen.
Giving testimony Mrs O’Neill said that she had visited him nines times in the space of 8 weeks, informing him on the eighth occasion that legal preceeding would be brought against the man.
Mrs O’Neill said on her final visit to the farm she witnessed neglect of a most apalling nature.
She told the court how on 5 May 2010, she came to the farm near Inniskeen. To a shed to her left she saw a door open where she found three bovine carcasses which she said would have been left there for a period of approximately a week. The carcasses were left to rot in approximately a foot of slurry.
In another shed she found 60 live animals and one dead animal which had been trampled into the slurry by the other cattle.
She also found another animal which was still alive which was being trampled into the slurry by the other animals. This animal, along with another two others, later had to euthanized.
Mrs O’Neill said that a body conditioning score was carried out on the remaining 60 animals. This test sees the animals given a score from 1 to 5 depending on their condition. The average rating of the animals were just 1.3.
After the discovery of the conditions, family members took over the running of the farm and the husbandry of the cattle.
Mrs O’Neill told the court that she believed the case to be one of “wilful neglect”, and told the court the every opportunity had been given to Finnegan to stop what he was doing and to tend to the animals properly.
Photographs were given to Judge Sean MacBride who was clearly shocked by what he saw, saying “My God” when he saw them. “These are the worst I’ve ever seen. The dreadful pains these animals must have been in, they would surely be mentally and physically scarred.”
Finnegan’s defence solicitor, Conan Fegan BL said that his client had a history of “severe psychiatric illness”, and that he was suffering with depression and suicidal thoughts.
Finnegan took to the stand, where Judge MacBride asked him what medication he was on, to which he replied that he did not know but that he took two pills a day.
Finnegan had once been a student of geography at NUI Maynooth and had a steady girlfriend. That relationship had ended and he had gone downhill since then.
The court heard that he had taken to drinking cider and had become completely isolated and was a self professed loner.
His defence told the court that the cruelty to the animals was a result of simple neglect and that his client wasn’t even able to look after himself.
At one point there was confusion as to if under Irish Law a man could be stopped from looking after animals for a lifetime, though Judge MacBride said that he would give an appropriate sentence to suit the crime.
Judge MacBride went back to his chamber to deliberate on the psychiatric report on Finnegan. When he returned to the court he said that he thought that the report said that Finnegan was genuinely unwell.
When he returned he said that Finnegan has suffered a horririfc incident as a child but that was no excuse for the cruelty inflicted on the cattle.
It also emeraged that Finnegan had a previous conviction for animal cruelty dating back to just 6 months before in a court in Mullingar.
He had also changed his name by deed poll to Michael Kearney.
Judge MacBride gave Finnegan a six months suspended sentence on the condition he never be involved in animal husbandry or farming again, that he receive all therapeutic medicines and pyscho therapy, psychological counselling and behavioural therapy. He also set the conditions that he abstain from alcohol, engage with alcohol counselling and be involved in no crime whatsoever. He fined Finnegan a total of €3,000 and gave him 6 months to pay with one month in default.
Judge Sean MacBride told the Finengan that is was not too late to turn his life around and that he should face his demons or he would never have peace.