By Gordon Deegan
A veterinary surgeon “compromised the horse industry” here when taking possession of unauthorised animal remedies three years ago.
That is according to Judge Patrick Durcan who this week convicted and fined south Galway vet Felim Mac Eoin €2,500 for the possession of unauthorised animal remedy – sarcoid cream – which Mac Eoin used to treat cancerous skin tumours in horses.
A Department of Agriculture inspector found the sarcoid cream in the boot of Mac Eoin’s car outside his Galway Equine Clinic, Kilcolgan, on May 8, 2018.
Gort District Court
At Gort District Court, Judge Durcan also ordered Felim Mac Eoin – who works exclusively with horses – to pay Department of Agriculture costs of €5,000 in the case.
The judge said that Mac Eoin had made a “scandalous allegation” to the Department of Agriculture that department inspector, Louis Riordan had “manhandled” him on the day of the inspection at Mac Eoin’s premises in May 2018.
The court heard that the vet subsequently withdrew the written allegation.
Judge Durcan stated that there is an inescapable conclusion that there was “a thickness, an obstinance and an approach that was dishonest and that was appalling” from Mac Eoin.
Felim Mac Eoin pleaded guilty to three offences – two relating to the possession of sarcoid cream and one relating to the possession of 100ml of painkiller, P-Bloc.
The container containing the P-Bloc wasn’t opened and the court was told by the state there is no evidence that the P-Bloc was used by Mac Eoin.
However, Judge Durcan struck out all summons apart from the one concerning the 100% sarcoid.
However, when the inspector asked to view the contents of Mac Eoin’s car boot, he stated that Mac Eoin ran over and slammed the boot shut.
Mr. Riordan stated that he wanted to inspect the clinic but that Mac Eoin didn’t allow him to enter the clinic and slid the door shut.
The department inspector stated that he “tussled” with Mac Eoin in order to gain entry but Mac Eoin placed a lock on the clinic door.
However, after Mac Eoin spoke to another department vet inspector by phone, he allowed the search to proceed in the car and the surgery.
Louis Riordan stated that he recovered three tubs of the sarcoid cream and that P-Bloc is a pain relieving agent, has the potential to mask injury in horses “and is potentially a performance enhancer”.
He added that the 100% sarcoid cream found was “an extremely dangerous product” and that Mac Eoin advised the inspector to wear gloves when handling it.
Solicitor for Mac Eoin, Colman Sherry asked Judge Durcan not to impose a conviction on his client, stating that the offences before the court were at the lower end of the scale.
The solicitor stated that Mac Eoin “had a lack of paperwork in his practice. There wasn’t full attention given to it and if there was, we might not be here”.
His solicitor stated that Mac Eoin had made an early admission of guilt and is extremely remorseful.
The court was told that the P-Bloc was never used and Mac Eoin received it “from a rep out foreign”.
“Here was a veterinary surgeon, bound by his hippocratic oath to lessen the pain on any animal which was brought to him in distress. He was doing his best and that is what many vets have to do. They have to make a choice to lessen the pain for an animal in the absence of an effective remedy,” the solicitor said.