A suspended sentence of three years and a €3,000 fine has reportedly been handed down to a cattle rustler in Ennis Circuit Court.

Padraig O’Brien from Magherigh, Mountshannon in Co. Clare was sentenced today; he pleaded guilty last week to 15 counts of theft.

The offences related to the theft of animals worth €17,000, the Clare Champion previously reported.

DNA testing was used to trace the stolen cattle through their progeny.

The Presiding Judge, Gerald Keys, delayed judgement on the case until today; having heard the full details of the case at a court sitting last week.

DNA testing was used by the Gardai and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to link 42-year-old O’Brien with the thefts.

Livestock theft

The offences involved the theft of five in-calf heifers from Bohatch, Mountshannon between January 17 and 18, 2015.

Six heifers were also taken from Kilrateera, Mountshannon between May 23 and 24, 2013 and four cows were reported stolen from Bohatch between December 8 and 9, 2013.

The three separate thefts were reported by 74-year-old John Forde, who runs a suckler herd in Mountshannon.

It is reported that Gardai were unable to make much headway during the investigation of the thefts which took place in 2013.

But at the time of the 2015 theft there had been a hard frost; Gardai were able to detect ‘sporadic hoof marks on the ditches’ which led them to O’Brien’s farmyard, some 2km away, the Clare Champion reported.

O’Brien reportedly denied any involvement in the theft of the five heifers and in the two thefts which occurred in 2015.

Using DNA testing the Gardaí were able to connect the outstanding stolen cattle to relatives of the animals and ultimately link them to O’Brien.

Some of the stolen cattle were recovered

It had been reported that, of the four cattle stolen in December 2013, three were recovered through DNA testing and the fourth was recovered due to admissions by O’Brien.

However, only one of the six animals in the initial theft was located; but it could not be returned to the owner as it was sold on to a feed-lot herd and could only go to slaughter from there, the Clare Champion reported.

It is believed O’Brien only admitted his involvement in the thefts when he was presented with the DNA evidence.

O’Brien reportedly stole the cattle due to financial pressures. He is believed to have sent an apology to both the Forde family and the Gardai for his actions.