A farmer in Co. Kerry is to appeal two jail terms and a lifetime ban from keeping animals handed down today (Tuesday, June 7) at Killarney District Court.
Judge David Waters described the suffering of a young bovine owned by John C Casey (otherwise known as Christy Casey) of Crosstown, Killarney as the “most shocking and severe” case of animal cruelty he had come across.
He also said that the 63-year-old farmer’s failure to notify the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) of the movement of 18 cattle from his holding flew in the face of traceability standards in the Irish beef industry.
On April 25, 2022, the judge found Casey guilty of 10 summonses at Killarney District Court.
This included animal cruelty; breaching animal movement regulations; failing to produce cattle passports and herd documentation; and the possession of the carcass of a cow.
The accused did not appear in court that day but was represented by barrister Katie O’Connell and solicitor Eimear Griffin. However, he was present for today’s sentencing hearing.
Veterinary inspector Louis Reardon told the court that he was part of a team from DAFM who attended lands at Corbally, Killorglin where Casey was keeping animals in May and July 2019.
Reardon agreed with prosecuting barrister, Tom Rice that the accused man was in a “highly-emotional and excitable state” and was “non-cooperative”.
The court heard how a one-year-old male Angus cross bred was found on the land with the end of one of its hind legs missing and bone was protruding. The young animal was shaking in pain, unable to walk and was surrounded by flies.
The vet estimated that the animal could have been in that condition for two months. The animal was “clearly in pain and had no prospect of recovery”, he said.
A video of the injured bovine was taken on the day and later shown in court to Judge David Waters.
Casey strongly objected to the animal being euthanised and asked for an independent local vet to be called to the scene; that vet agreed that the animal should be immediately put to sleep to prevent unnecessary suffering.
The court also heard that the decomposing carcass of a cow was found in a trailer on the land. Reardon said that the overwhelming “stench of putrefaction” could be picked up from 30m away.
The vet explained that in normal circumstances a farmer is required to remove a dead animal promptly, he said that this cow had been dead for some time.
Reardon gave evidence that 18 animals had been moved from the lands, however, the farmer did not inform DAFM of this, as is legally required.
The department was later told that the animals were on lands in Macroom, Co. Cork but had been stolen or gone missing.
The court heard that the accused, who refused to provide an address, did not make animal passports and herd registration documentation available.
Reardon said some documents were later found during a search of a van.
The vet noted that the herd register was “extremely badly kept”.
Representing the accused, solicitor Padraig O’Connell explained that his client had failed to appear in court in April as he had been given the incorrect date.
The solicitor noted that an application for adjournment sought that day by Casey’s legal team had been refused.
O’Connell told the court that the farmer does not accept he is guilty of any offences and would be lodging a full appeal.
Judge David Waters told the court that this was a “very serious case”.
He noted that people who disregard regulations around the movement of cattle put the reputation of the Irish beef industry in jeopardy. The judge said that traceability was part of the advertising of Irish produce.
What Casey was doing was flying in the face of that, he stated.
Judge Waters said that this was one of the most shocking and severe cases of animal cruelty that he had seen.
The judge pointed to the “extremely strong” evidence presented in court of the video of the injured animal which he said put it beyond any reasonable doubt.
Judge Waters told Killarney District Court that a custodial sentence was appropriate.
He handed down a five-month prison sentence for causing unnecessary suffering to, or endangering the health of the young bovine between November 19, 2018 and May 17, 2019.
A separate five-month jail term, to run concurrently, was handed down for failing to notify the department of the movement of bovines or the death of a bovine on the holding between the same dates.
The judge also disqualified Casey from keeping animals for the rest of his life.
He told the court that he did not think Casey should ever have the care of animals if he did not accept he has a case to answer based on the video shown to the court.
He said that Casey had shown “zero remorse” or no element of insight into the nature of the offence.
The remainder of the summonses were taken into consideration. Casey was released on bail pending the outcome of his appeal.