Graphic images: Farmer dumps 12 carcasses on ‘spectacular’ Clare cliffs

By Gordon Deegan

A farmer dumped 12 animal carcasses on the ‘spectacular’ high cliffs of west Clare – a location noted for its beauty by iconic travel guide book Lonely Planet, a court has heard.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Detective Garda Oliver Downes also told the court that it took two days for a pyre to cremate the remains of the eight horse and four cattle carcasses to burn itself out at Baltard, Doonbeg in April 2014.

Detective Downes said that the authorities took the decision to cremate the remains and organise the pyre as it was not practical to remove the carcasses from the base of the cliffs.

Detective Downes said that the pyre required two tonnes of coal, 90 bags of timber and 90 bags of kindle to help cremate the animal remains.

Detective Downes said that the cremation of the carcasses and disposing of the remains cost the council €7,372.

In the case, Martin Gerald Foley (65) of Lislanihan, Kilkee pleaded guilty to disposing of waste in a manner that is likely to cause environmental pollution – on dates unknown between April 20, 2013 and March 13, 2014 – contrary to Section 32 (1) of the Waste Management Act.

Separate case

In court, Patrick Whyms BL (barrister-at-law) confirmed that his client will be pleading guilty to sample counts from 193 animal welfare charges brought against Foley in a separate prosecution.

Whyms said: “That case will not trouble the court as far as a jury trial is concerned.”

In that case, the animal welfare charges relate to cattle and horses at locations in west Clare at Lisdeen, Lislanihan, Donoghboy, Dough and Baltard between March 2014 and 2016.

Whyms said that he would make his plea of mitigation in relation to the two cases at a later date.

Matching DNA

In the dumping case, the court heard that the state authorities carried out a painstaking investigation to identify the remains and pinpoint the culprit through DNA matching of the animals in the face of denials from Foley when he was first questioned on the dumping.

In evidence, Detective Downes said that a walker contacted Gardai on March 31, 2014 “in a very distressed” state and informed them of the carcasses she found dumped.

Detective Downes said that the cliffs are “spectacular”, very popular with tourists and walkers and are part of a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

He said that the carcasses were in various states of decomposition and that the cattle had their ear ID tags removed.

Detective Downes said at the time, there was no requirement for horses to be tagged.

He said that a multi-agency investigation was launched involving the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Clare County Council.

Detective Downes said that four muscle samples were taken from the four bovine carcasses.

The detective said that an inspection was made of Foley’s herd on April 1 and 4 and that 13 cattle were found to be missing from the herd.

Detective Downes said that tissue samples from five of the 13 were retained at a lab and that they matched with two of the bovine samples that were taken at the scene.

Technology

Counsel for the state, Lorcan Connolly BL said that the technology in place to preserve the integrity of the national herd helped identify the cattle as belonging to Martin Gerald Foley.

Detective Downes said that Foley also put forward the theory that the animals were washed up by the sea.

However, an oceanographer employed by the state to comment on the theory said that this was very unlikely due to the motion of the sea and the wave action.

Whyms said that there is no suggestion that the animals were anything other than dead when disposed of at the cliffs.

The court will hear that Foley’s herd had a problem with mortality. It wasn’t a case that he was routinely dumping animals. In the space of three months, 32 dead animals died on his farm and were disposed of in the correct manner.

Whyms said that Foley was also poor at record keeping.

Connolly said that the penalties for the offence are fines up to €15 million and prison terms up 10 years in jail.

Judge Gerald Keys remanded Foley on continuing bail to appear before court on May 21 when the animal neglect case is also listed.