Suspended sentence for cattle dealer in breach of cattle movement regulations

A cattle dealer from Turlough, Co. Mayo has received a three-year suspended prison sentence after he was found to be in breach of 61 counts relating to the movement of cattle, The Mayo News reports.

John Hegarty received the sentence this week from Judge Rory McCabe, who said that a ‘haphazard attitude’ to farming rules threatens the reputation of the nation.

Hegarty appeared before Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court where he pleaded guilty to the offences which were detected following an inspection of his farm in March 2014, according to the paper.

Judge McCabe told the court that while farming regulations can be ‘bewildering’, they were there for a purpose and that was to ensure traceability and prevent the outbreak of diseases.

They are there to protect the farming community and the taxpayer in maintaining standards in a cut throat environment in a worldwide market.

“People may see the penalties as very harsh but they reflect the damage which can be caused by disease. The reputation of farming and the nation can be on the line by the spread of disease such as BSE and Foot and Mouth,” he said.

Daniel Gavaghan, a District Superintendent at the Department of Agriculture, gave evidence in court on the case and he explained that he arrived on the farm on March 26, 2014, the paper reports.

There the District Superintendent recorded finding 22 cattle in the shed and the defendant admitted they were not his.

The Mayo News reports that four cows and one heifer belonged to another farmer which were refused entry to a slaughter house and brought back to Hegarty’s farm.

Gavaghan said the four cows did not have a TB test and Hegarty took control of the cattle without a compliance cert, which was an offence.

The court heard that 13 of the cattle were bought in Ballina Mart and their destination was to a dealer called John F Kennedy in Co Carlow. He said they were brought to Hegarty’s farm in the interim; a breach of regulations.

Hegarty had received a cattle dealer’s licence in November 2004 but this was revoked in January 2006 and the court heard he had an application for a new licence.

Eoin Garavan, counsel for the cattle dealer, described what his client was doing as ‘messing’ by keeping the cattle on his farm until it was viable to move the cattle to Co Carlow in one trip.

He also said that his client was essentially illiterate and had not caught up with technology and the practices of modern farming, the paper reports.

Hegarty did not seek to gain financially from the practice and only held the cattle on his farm before moving them on, according to Garavan.

Counsel went on to say that Hegarty was a married man with three young children and was in financial difficulty after spending money on sheds and asked the judge to not impose a custodial sentence.

The Mayo News reports that when considering his sentencing options, he said he would impose a sentence which would be a deterrent from him committing similar crimes.

Hegarty was sentenced to three years imprisonment, suspended for a period of seven years on the condition he keeps the peace and does not breach further regulations.