Farmer told 'what you've done to your neighbour is unforgivable'
A Clare farmer has received a suspended three-year jail term and a €3,000 fine after it was uncovered using DNA tracing that he was responsible for three separate thefts of cattle from his neighbour.
Ahead of delivering his sentence the judge in the case of Padraig O’Brien (42) of Magherigh, Mountshannon, said: “what you have done to your neighbour is unforgivable”.
O’Brien pleaded guilty at Ennis Circuit Criminal Court to 15 counts of theft relating to cattle worth €17,000.
The offences involved the theft of five in-calf heifers from Bohatch, Mountshannon between January 17 and 18, 2015; the theft of six heifers from Kilrateera, Mountshannon between May 23 and 24, 2013, and the theft of four cows from Bohatch between December 8 and 9, 2013.
The court heard that gardaí were led to O’Brien after they found “sporadic hoof marks on the ditches” in frost, leading to his farmyard in January 2015. Five heifers stolen on that occasion were recovered in a segregated area on his farm.
However an extensive 10-month investigation involving gardaí and the Department of Agriculture got underway to tie O’Brien to the two other earlier thefts. The court heard O’Brien was directly linked to the other incidents after DNA testing was used to trace the remaining stolen cattle through their progeny.
On Friday Judge Gerald Keys said that gardaí found that due to the “excellent observation” of Detective Casey who discovered hoof marks, five of the missing heifers were located on O’Brien’s farm.
He said gardaí had also established that O’Brien had applied for an unusual number of replacement tags in 2013, the year of the earliest thefts and using DNA tracing they linked O’Brien to the remaining thefts.