Wednesday 19 June 2019

Dog handler who used live piglet as bait fails in bid to lift racetrack ban

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Tim Healy

A dog handler who used a live piglet as bait to train greyhounds has failed in a High Court challenge to his exclusion from racetracks or coursing events.

Christopher Connolly (25) sought to quash a decision by Bord na gCon to exclude him from events. The Irish Coursing Club (ICC), which regulates coursing, consented to the exclusion order.

While living in Australia four years ago, he was the subject of a ban in the state of Victoria after he was found guilty of using a piglet as live bait at Tooradin Trial Track. Ten people involved in this activity were also handed bans.

Mr Connolly, of Farney's Cross, Cappawhite, Co Tipperary, received a lifetime ban.

This was reduced on appeal in 2015 to five years with another five suspended on condition he is of good behaviour. The ban is due to expire in 2020.

Mr Connolly returned to Ireland in 2015 and in 2016 he applied to Bord na gCon for a "Kennelhand Authorisation", which would allow him to work in the industry he has been involved with for many years.

He was refused and he appealed to a Bord na gCon control committee which also found he was "not a fit and proper person to be certified".

The appeal committee said there was uncontroverted evidence he had pleaded guilty to three offences in Australia "which were barbaric in nature" and there should be no tolerance of such behaviour.

The committee accepted Mr Connolly was involved in the Australian incident to a lesser extent than other participants who were treated more severely than him by the Australian regulators.

The committee was not in a position to give a time as to when it might be appropriate to revisit Mr Connolly's application. However, noting the five-year ban with five more suspended in Australia, it suggested he "consider his options thereafter".

He then brought High Court proceedings against the board and the ICC, saying the decision was flawed and should be set aside on grounds including that it is unreasonable and irrational.

But Ms Justice Teresa Pilkington dismissed his challenge, saying while the decision of the Australian authorities was not binding here, the evidence presented to them was something which Bord na gCon could have regard to when making its decision.

He had been afforded proper procedures and due process in accordance with the 1958 Greyhound Industry Act, she said.

Irish Independent

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