Stolen horse finally back home - after seven years
GARDAI investigating a suspected stolen horse ring have recovered a missing mare seven years after it disappeared.
The horse, which vanished from a stud farm in 2003, was found in Sussex, England following a cross-channel investigation involving gardai, British police forces and Interpol.
Its owners, Co Wexford farmer Pat O'Leary and his wife Margaret, had given up hope of ever seeing the horse again.
However, they were contacted by gardai "out of the blue" last week to say that the mare, 12-year-old Mount Gold Maid, had been found and would be returned to them.
The investigation into the theft of the horse is ongoing.
It is understood gardai are probing whether the disappearance is linked to a number of other missing-horse cases in the south east.
A complaint made by a couple from the midlands, whose horse also went missing from a stud farm in the south east, is among those being examined by gardai.
During the summer of 2003, Mr O'Leary, from Adamstown, brought the then five-year-old horse to a stud farm to have the mare covered.
It went missing without a trace from the stud farm a short time later.
Gardai started an investigation at the time, but only recently made a breakthrough after receiving new information last January.
The horse was traced to a farm in Sussex. Its new owners had bought it 18 months previously and were completely unaware it had been stolen.
They personally returned the horse to Mr O'Leary after being notified it had been stolen in Ireland.
Officers are investigating whether a false animal passport was used to transport the horse abroad.
It is thought the mare gave birth to several foals in the time it was missing.
"We're just delighted to have her back after all this time," said Mr O'Leary. "We only have her back a few days, but she is in perfect health and condition."