Man jailed for 'shocking' animal cruelty loses appeal over sentence
A man whose farm was "strewn with skeletal remains" has lost an appeal against the severity of his three-year prison sentence for "shocking" levels of animal cruelty.
James Kavanagh (48) pleaded guilty to 30 counts of causing or allowing animal cruelty at his property at Raheenleigh, Myshall, Co Carlow, in April 2015.
Kavanagh was sentenced to three years' imprisonment and ordered to pay €35,000 towards the ISPCA's costs, which totalled €59,149, by Judge James McCourt on February 22.
Judge McCourt also disqualified Kavanagh from having any involvement with dogs or horses for life. The maximum penalty is five years and a fine of up to €250,000.
His wife, Jennifer Kavanagh, was given a wholly suspended 12-month sentence on the same occasion after she admitted 30 counts of allowing animal cruelty.
Upholding the sentence yesterday, president of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham said 340 dogs and 11 horses had to be removed from Kavanagh's premises over 11 days.
In addition, 20 dogs and four horses had to be euthanised for humane reasons.
He said the scene encountered by the gardaí and ISPCA officials was "truly shocking" and involved "atrocious levels of animal neglect and cruelty".
"A number of dead dogs were discovered, some of which had apparently been killed and eaten by other dogs," he said.
"The premises were strewn with skeletal remains, dead sheep and rotting horse carcasses. Gardaí witnessed dogs eating dog and horse carcasses, as it appeared this was their only source of food."
Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice John Edwards and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, said the sentence "fell well within the range of appropriate sentences for offending of such seriousness" and the court accordingly dismissed the appeal.
In his judgment, Mr Justice Birmingham said there was one further matter the court wished to comment upon.
He said the court had been asked to deal with Kavanagh's case within weeks of the Circuit Court hearing due to the tragic loss of his teenage son in a road traffic accident.
The pressure to cope that had been placed on Kavanagh was "compounded by the shocking, indeed one can say, disgusting, response there has been on social media to the tragedy that has befallen the Kavanagh family".
He said the court did not wish to appear "hard-hearted or indifferent", but the court's role was confined to reviewing the correctness, or otherwise, of sentences imposed at first instance.