Farmer jailed after starving donkeys ate fences
STARVING donkeys and horses were so hungry that they were forced to eat fence posts and tree bark to try to survive, a court heard yesterday.
Sligo farmer, James Curley, who pleaded guilty to three counts of animal cruelty, was jailed for three days by the judge so he could "have time to reflect" on what he had done.
The father of three from Easkey, Co Sligo, was before Sligo District Court on nine counts of cruelty to donkeys and horses on rented land in the Culleens area of west Sligo in February 2010.
A shocked ISPCA inspector and vet who visited the 40-acre field on February 4 found a dead donkey at the gateway.
In the field they found a number of animals at various stages of emaciation, with protruding bones, muscle wastage, overgrown hoofs, hair loss and suffering from hypothermia.
There was also evidence of chewed bark from the perimeter hedgerows as well as fence posts that had been eaten down.
One six-month-old foal was so malnourished that it was unable to walk and had to be put down, the court was told.
Sligo County Council veterinary officer, Conall Calleary told the court that another young female donkey was covered in sores.
Such was the extent of the animals' injuries that they had to be sent to two different centres to be rehabilitated at a cost of almost €1,500.
Curley, who pleaded guilty to three cruelty charges and a charge of failing to dispose of an animal carcass, blamed his 16-year-old son, claiming he was sick at the time.
But the farmer, who is in his early 60s, insisted the animals were being fed hay and even "a biteen of grain" daily.
Judge Kevin Kilrane accused him of telling blatant lies and jailed the farmer until sentencing on Thursday.
"These animals were getting absolutely nothing in the month of February except snow, frost and the bark of trees.
"They absolutely and utterly starved. He is in total denial and this is the only way he can be brought to his senses," he said.
"They were not being looked after," he said. "There was a donkey dead. No one was visiting them.
"He is in total denial. He blames his son. His approach is completely wrong," he said.
The defendant has been remanded in custody to Ballymote garda station.