Saturday 20 January 2018

Farmer sues over impounding and destruction of prized horses

Tim Healy

A FARMER is suing a local council after four horses he owned were stolen or wrongly freed from his land and later ended up impounded and destroyed.

Gerard Burke says the four horses, a show jumper and three prized Connemara ponies, were wrongly put down by agents of South Dublin Co Council after he failed to pay impounding fees.


He says the horses were stolen or freed by unknown people from the land they were on in Stocking Lane, Rathfarnham in June, 2011.


In July that year, Mr Burke, of Pineview Road, Tallaght, Dublin, got High Court permission to bring judicial review proceedings seeking the return of the animals.


Yesterday, when the case opened, Michael O'Higgins SC, for Mr Burke, said it had since been confirmed the horses had been destroyed earlier that month (July 2011).


Mr O'Higgins said his client would also now be seeking damages against the council although this matter may have to be dealt with separately.


Two of the Connemara ponies had won awards while the show jumper, a mare, was  in foal and the value of those two animals alone was €24,000, counsel said.


The court heard that the animals were picked up by an agency employed by the council after they got out of the land in Rathfarnham


After making inquiries, Mr Burke was told they were in a pound and he would have to pay €3,300 for the rounding up and impounding fees.


Mr Burke argued that as the horses got out as a result of a criminal act, he should not have to pay the fees.


The council said that it was entitled to dispose of the animals under the Control of Horses Act, and under its bye laws, if they were not reclaimed and fees paid within five days of the round up.


The hearing continues before Mr Justice John Hedigan.

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