Court: Farmer who accused neighbour of mistreating sheep was the ‘real culprit’

A farmer who accused his neighbour of mistreating his sheep by not watering them in scorching hot weather was found to be the real culprit.

The farmer appeared before Carndonagh District Court in Co. Donegal charged with two counts of cruelty to animals.

The defendant had accused his neighbour – another farmer – of not filling up his water barrels during stifling summer heat in the summer of 2018. He contacted animal welfare inspectors in Letterkenny to make the accusations against his neighbour. The court heard that the two men had been involved in a long-running dispute.

Between June 26 and 29, 2018, the defendant contacted the Department of Agriculture in Letterkenny claiming that sheep on his neighbour’s farm at Ballymacarthur, Greencastle, were not being watered.

Garda Sergeant Sean McDaid told the court that it was a very hot period and, on the day in question, temperatures in the area had reached 25.1º.

There were 13 sheep in the neighbour’s field and some of the sheep were in distress. The court was told that, when the initial complaint was made against him, the neighbour decided to install a covert camera.

When Gardaí viewed the footage they saw the defendant dumping the water out of his neighbour’s water-feeding barrels.

Sergeant McDaid said that the water was filled up again an hour after it was dumped out. He also commented that the neighbour looked after his animals well.

The solicitor for the accused, aged 54, said his client was a vulnerable man who was trying to get at his neighbour through his sheep.

However, he stressed that this was not an effort to injure the animals in any way. This was part of an ongoing disagreement and this was a form of protest against his neighbour.

There had been no incidents between the two men since this had happened almost two years ago, the court was told.

Judge Paul Kelly said he planned to deal with the matter by way of a peace bond but would like to speak to the defendant. He adjourned the case until September.