A LISTOWEL man has been banned from owning horses for a minimum of two years after being convicted of animal cruelty in a scene that the presiding judge likened to a 'battlefield'.
James Lenihan of Knockreagh, Listowel, received a three-month suspended sentence and was fined €1,000 after the bodies of two horses and a foal were found strewn on his land, while another nine animals were found severely malnourished, with their ribs clearly visible and with no water or food at their disposal.
After viewing photographs of the scene that greeted gardaí last August, Judge Mary Larkin (pictured, left) said: "If you'd seen it on a battlefield you'd be absolutely appalled."
She refuted claims by Mr Lenihan's solicitor that the 61-year-old 'loves animals' and had been feeding them regularly and couldn't explain what had happened.
"He couldn't have been feeding them, they starved to death. When he saw the first one lying there dead he should have done something," she said.
After the case, Mr Lenihan contacted The Kerryman insisting that he had been feeding the animals every day, and that he was at a loss to explain their deaths within days of each other.
"I didn't starve them. I wouldn't do that. I adored them," he said. "I just cannot explain what happened and that's the honest truth."