A DAD who took his children and their dogs for a hike near their Dublin mountains home ended up in a "struggle" when farmers tried to seize his young son's spaniel for worrying their sheep, a court heard.
Mark Turley (44) was "terrified" his dog would be killed when he grabbed it back from a farmer's son in the incident that happened after he and his family left the Wicklow Way and strayed onto a private farm.
The accused was found guilty of being the owner of an uncontrolled and "livestock-worrying" dog after a court heard the farmers -- Richard Ryan and his son Cormac -- were in fear for the safety of their 50 pregnant sheep.
But Judge Catherine Murphy said she would strike out the charges if Turley made a charity donation, remarking that the case was an example of the "lack of understanding" between the "non-farming and farming communities".
Turley had denied both charges.
Dublin District Court heard there was a "heated" incident between Turley and Cormac Ryan during which the accused grabbed his spaniel back and the two men fell to the ground. No assault charge was brought.
The court heard Turley, of Longsdale, Hanlon's Lane, Ticknock, was out walking with two friends and the men's five young children at 2pm on February 1, 2009.
At one point the route was muddy and machinery was blocking their way. They decided to go into an adjoining field at Kilmashogue, Rathfarnham and Turley said he was not aware it was private property.
Richard Ryan said in evidence his son Cormac noticed around 50 of their flock of sheep were running. He did not see the dog but was concerned because they were six weeks away from birth.
Mr Ryan admitted he followed Turley home after the incident.
Cormac Ryan told the court he saw "something orange" chasing the sheep and ran after them. He saw the accused lifting the second of two children over the boundary fence and two dogs with them. He told the accused he was on private property and said Turley "acted in a very arrogant way".
Mr Ryan picked up the offending dog and walked back towards the farm house to call the dog warden.Turley followed and grabbed the dog and they fell to the ground.
"He ripped the dog from my grip and went back toward the boundary fence", Mr Ryan said.
In evidence, the accused said he was only 2ft onto the land when he heard roaring and shouting and saw a man banging on a no trespassing sign.
He had not seen the sign and apologised, but neither of his dogs ran after any sheep, he said. He said he was putting one of the dogs back outside the fence when Cormac Ryan picked up his springer spaniel.
"I got an awful fright and so did my kids," he said. "I did ask for the dog back and he said he was taking it to his house. I was terrified, I thought he was going to kill my dog. I went over and put my arms around the dog and took my dog."
"These men followed me all the way back to my house with the five kids. I was terrified".
A garda told the court mediation had been offered to all parties but the Ryans had declined.
Judge Murphy said she would strike the charge out if the accused made a €350 donation to the NSPCA.