'The pasture had been literally littered with skulls', Dundalk court told

Dundalk Circuit Court

'The pasture had been literally littered with skulls', Dundalk court told

A father and son ignored an instruction from a Department of Agriculture veterinary inspector, who had told them not to remove a distressed and malnourished young heifer from a ditch on their land, which was subsequently euthanized, Dundalk Circuit Court was told last week.

Noel Carroll (76) and Shane Carroll (41) of Mullahattin, Riverstown each admitted two counts of failing to take all necessary steps to ensure the welfare of a farm animal in their possession and a further charge of obstructing or impeding an authorised officer of the department in the course of her duty.

A Department of Agriculture veterinary inspector told the court last Tuesday that she had visited the defendants’ farm on February 26th 2013 having received a call about a young heifer being stuck in a very muddy drain five foot below the road. The animals feet were embedded in the sandy bottom of the drain, it was exhausted, its’ head was dipping in the water and it was showing signs of suffering from shock.

The veterinary inspector said that the animal was malnourished which may have been a contributory factor in it being unable to get out of the ditch.

Both men arrived on a tractor and trailer and when the witness told them the heifer was to be euthanized and she instructed them not to move the animal, they insisted they were going to pull her out.

The court heard how Shane Carroll raised his voice and used strong language and his father told the witness it was her fault and grabbed the woman’s mobile phone before she retrieved it returned to her vehicle and drove off calling for garda back-up.

When she returned, the animal had been pulled out, which the court heard could not have been done in a humane manner.

It was unable to walk and after the defendants’ vet agreed with the official, the animal was shot in the trailer.

On March 20th, the inspector returned to ‘condition score’ individual animals, and the court heard 10 sheep were found to be in poor condition.

Shane Carroll said he was feeding them as well as he could, but denied any responsibility saying only the land had been handed over to him in 2011 and not the livestock.

The witness said there seemed to be no empathy - adding “These were sentient beings starving to death in front of them” and she claimed there was no taking of responsibility and “the pasture was literally littered with skulls”.

The court was told that there was a national fodder crisis at the time and several TB reactors had been found in the herd which was closed until 2014.

Judge Michael O’Shea was told that silage is being made on-site again and conditions on the farm have improved. He also heard both men had pleaded guilty in the district court, but at an advanced stage the judge there felt it ought to be dealt with by the Circuit Court.

Judge O’Shea imposed concurrent 12 month sentences for each of the offences against the defendants, but they were suspended on both men entering bonds to be of good behaviour for 12 months.