Farm Ireland

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Farmer told he's 'in serious trouble' and will probably be jailed over breaches of farming regulations

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Anne Lucey

A Kerry farmer is facing jail over numerous breaches of farming regulations

A 57-year-old farmer has appeared before Killarney District Court where he pleaded guilty to 14 “sample counts” mainly in relation to bovine tagging and identification, and animal movement, and also animal health and welfare.

Rarely had Department of Agriculture Inspectors come across breaches on such a scale, the court heard and Judge James O’Connor said the farmer “in serious trouble” and would probably be jailed.

John C Casey, otherwise known as Christy Casey of Crosstown, Killarney Co Kerry, pleaded guilty to the charges mainly at Ryefield, Whitechurch, Co. Cork and within the State.

His suckler herd was registered in Co Cork and he also had leased land, the court was told.

Louis Reardon, veterinary inspector with the Department of Agriculture, said the Department would regularly come across incidents relating to small numbers of breaches of regulations animal movement and registration- but  “not on the scale of Mr Casey” .

Fifty summonses had been issued by the prosecutor the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and 14 sample counts pleaded to, prosecuting counsel outlined.

The breaches were of European Communities bovine regulations, 2009, on animal passports, notification of birth of a calf birth within seven days of being tagged, information on sale or disposal of bovines, failing to provide an animal passport in relation to movement of an animal.

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He had also failed to disclose the location of animals as required under the Animal Health and Welfare Act, 2013.

The dates of the offences were mainly on August 14, 2014 and September 15, 2014. Failing to register births of  a number of animals were said to have occurred between November 2013 and 2014.  He had failed to furnish Mr Reardon with information regarding the sale, supply or disposal of bovines within the State according to one summons.

Mr Reardon said he had failed to produce animal passports; and asked where the cattle were, “he would not say”.

Only some of the cattle had ever been located and “we don’t know what happened these animals,” Mr Reardon said in response to a query by Judge O’Connor regarding 69 animals.

Giving false dates of birth had implications regarding BSE and disease testing as the ages of the animals were important in these tests.

He failed to have his herd available for inspection at Whitechurch.

“We had a large team assembled on a number of occasions to inspect the animals – ten officers and three gardai,” Mr Reardon said outlining Department  of Agriculture costs of €15,000; DNA testing was undertaken; lorries had to be hired and there were travel costs for staff from Waterford to Cork to Kerry.

The Department was seeking to recover €5,000 of the costs from Mr Casey.

Usually breaches involved two to three animals, and they were “not on the scale” of Mr Casey’s the inspector said in reply to a question from Judge James O’Connor.

Mr Casey had no previous convictions, but he had public order and road traffic convictions, the court was told. However, he had entered a plea from very early.

Solicitor for Mr Casey, Padraig O’Connell, said his client had grown up on a farm in Blackwater and “cattle are his life”.

“Unfortunately he came to a misconceived idea that the Department were not co-operating with him…he apologises unreservedly for his lack of engagement,” the solicitor said.

The country would “go upside down” if every farmer carried on like in relation to stock management, the judge said.

Judge James O’Connor told the solicitor his client was “in serious trouble”  and would probably be jailed.

The man’s son John Casey Junior also of Crosstown, Killarney had also been issued with summonses for similar alleged breaches. An application by the State was made to adjourn this at the outset.

Judge O’Connor asked the Department Inspector, Mr Reardon, to ascertain further details about the father and son farm ownership and herd numbers.

The matter was adjourned until March 21 when the son John Casey Junior would be in court.

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