Farm Ireland

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Cattle rustler traced by a trail of hooves that led to his farm

Padraig O’Brien at Ennis Circuit Court
Padraig O’Brien at Ennis Circuit Court

Gordon Deegan

A man who admitted stealing cattle from an elderly neighbour will live with the "shame and disgrace" for the rest of his life, a court has been told.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Padraig O'Brien (42) of Maghereigh, Mountshannon, Co Clare, pleaded guilty to 15 separate counts of stealing cattle from John Ford (74) between May 2013 and January 2015.

In court, counsel for O'Brien, Patrick Whyms, said that a psychiatric report recorded how former friends and acquaintances "will no longer talk to Mr O'Brien" because of the offences.

Mr Whyms added that O'Brien "is going to live with the shame and disgrace for the rest of his life" following he offences.

He said that along with this, people who owe O'Brien money are refusing to pay him back on account of his crimes, while he has also been accused of a number of acts of theft from the local community.

Mr Whyms said that O'Brien had subsequently been proven not to have been involved in those thefts but only after being subject to verbal and physical threats.

O'Brien, a married father with one son, has paid more than €17,000 in compensation to Mr Ford after an independent assessor totalled the compensation to be paid from the thefts.

"Even now, after making full financial recompense, he will always have to carry the burden and the stigma," Mr Whyms said.

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O'Brien had stolen cattle from Mr Ford in May and December 2013 and he went undetected.

However, his third theft was only discovered as a result of a hard frost that left the imprint of the stolen cattle's hooves on the edge of the road that led a trail to O'Brien's farm.

In court, Detective Garda Bernard Casey said that he requested O'Brien allow him to search his property and Det Gda Casey came across five heifers in a segregated area in the farm buildings.

O'Brien denied all knowledge of the theft and the previous two thefts.

Det Gda Casey then commenced a 10-month investigation criss-crossing the country searching farms for the missing animals using DNA technology.

After Det Gda Casey identified the missing animals, he re-arrested O'Brien in November 2015 where he made admissions during three interviews.

O'Brien told gardaí: "I am sorry (for) what I have done."

Det Gda Casey said that O'Brien's crime caused the Ford family "a lot of stress".

He said the solving of the crime "was tinged with sadness for the Fords because they had a close bond with Padraig O'Brien".

Judge Gerald Keys said he required time to read the reports in the case and remanded O'Brien on bail to re-appear before him next Friday.

Irish Independent

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