Leslie Stewart, 69, of The Thorn, Letterkenny, Co Donegal was given a three month suspended jail sentence in Letterkenny District Court today for animal cruelty.
The case resulted from a joint investigation made to Mr Stewart’s farm by ISPCA Inspector Kevin McGinley and Department of Agriculture Veterinary Inspector Desmond Lavin in February and March of 2014 during which a number of serious animal welfare issues were discovered.
A number of animals were euthanized on the farm including a donkey too weak to stand, two emaciated calves and an emaciated pony mare unable to bear any weight on one of her fore-legs. A further seven ponies were surrendered into the care of the ISPCA.
Veterinary Inspector with the Department of Agriculture, Desmond Lavin, told the court that he had called to Stewart’s farm on October 19th last after Judge Kelly had put a ban in place on him from keeping animals. On that occasion he found five goats, one pot-bellied pig with nine piglets, three dogs and three cats. He had advised Mr Stewart that he was not allowed to keep animals and told him he would be returning to the property which he did on October 30th last. On this date all the animals had been removed, apart from three cats which Mr Stewart said were strays.
Judge Paul Kelly said the only reason preventing him from sending Mr Stewart to jail was his age. The judge sentenced him to three months in prison on one cruelty charge but suspended the jail sentence for 12 months and took other charges into consideration. Judge Kelly also awarded the ISPCA €250 veterinary fees for the removal of several ponies from Mr Stewart’s lands at an earlier date. He also warned Ms Stewart’s solicitor, Mr Kieran O’Gorman, to advise his client that he risks going to jail if he keeps any more animals on his land in future.
ISPCA Senior Inspector Kevin McGinley commented afterwards, “We would like to thank the Department of Agriculture Veterinary Inspector Desmond Lavin on the joint venture bringing this case to a successful conclusion. We believe this case sends out a clear message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated.”.
Members of the public should report animal welfare concerns to the ISPCA by contacting the National Animal Cruelty Helpline on 1890 515 515 or report in confidence via the ISPCA online cruelty complaint form.