Judge dismisses all cruelty charges against Curleys
AN ISPCA inspector told Sligo District Court how she found horses sinking in mud which came above their knees at a West Sligo farm.
Karen Lyons also related how she saw other horses up to their stomachs in muck at the farm of James P. Curley, Culleens on January 4th 2013.
Curley (63) was charged with ill treating a two year old donkey mare to the point that it was emaciated and had overgrown hooves.
He also faced two other charges of neglecting a donkey mare to point it presented in a deplorable condition.
The defendant's son, James Curley was charged with ill treating a donkey foal.
The defendants denied the charges and were represented by solicitor Mark Mullaney.
Ms Lyons told the court she went to a farm at Cooga, Easkey along with Sgt Helen Cuddy following a call from a member of the public.
Behind a house there was a paddock which contained 21 horses.
It was very muddy and the horse were sinking in it.
The muck was over their knees and up to their stomachs.
There was a round feeder present with some hay but the horses were in poor condition.
Behind this paddock there were 19 donkeys in another muddy paddock.
There was a small feeder present and there was only shelter to accommodate two donkeys.
The hip bones and spine could be seen on some of the donkeys.
The witness came across a donkey foal in a very weakened state.
James Curley senior said he had been treating the donkey foal himself.
There were also some cattle in a slatted shed.
The donkeys were moved into a shed for closer examination.
"They were in a very poor to reasonable condition.
"There was a piebald foal, owned by Mr Curley's son which had rain scald on its back," said Ms Lyons.
Three donkey mares and a sick foal were surrendered to the ISPCA.
James Curley senior would not allow them take another donkey mare as he said she was too valuable.
The witness told Inspector Paul Kilcoyne there was a minimal amount of fodder present for the number of donkeys.
"There was feed in the feeders but on viewing the animals I couldn't see that their nutritional needs were being met," said witness.
James Curley junior undertook to provide more fodder for his poorly piebald foal which wasn't taken away.
Ms Lyons agreed with Mr Mullaney that it had been a very poor winter with a lot of rain.
There was no prosecution brought in relation to the horses.
Mr Mullaney said the donkeys were put outdoors for a few hours in order to clean the slatted house.
The witness agreed that the slatted house was clean.
A number of pictures of the donkeys were handed in to court but there was none of the foal which James Curley junior owned.
A veterinary report was sought to be introduced by the prosecution but Mr Mullaney objected.
He said he hadn't been furnished with it in advance of the hearing and the witness was also not in court to give evidence.
Judge Kevin Kilrane excluded the report.
Following further submissions, the Judge dismissed all charges.
He said there seemed to be total and utter confusion as to the age and condition of the donkeys taken with the agreement of the Curleys.
The Judge said he was surprised the prosecution related to the donkeys only.
He said the state of the donkeys didn't amount to cruelty.
The feed appeared to be adequate and there wasn't sufficient evidence for a conviction.