Cattle thief ‘shunned by local community’, court hears

Padraig O’Brien (42) identified as a rustler by a trail of hoof marks that led to his farm

A Co Clare man who stole cattle from an elderly neighbour is being shunned in his local community by former friends and acquaintances, a court has heard. File photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

A Co Clare man who stole cattle from an elderly neighbour is being shunned in his local community by former friends and acquaintances, a court has heard. File photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

 

A Co Clare man who stole cattle from an elderly neighbour is being shunned in his local community by former friends and acquaintances, a court has heard.

On Friday, Padraig O’Brien (42), of Mountshannon, Co Clare, pleaded guilty at Ennis Circuit Court to 15 counts of stealing cattle from John Ford (74) between May 2013 and January 17th, 2015.

Counsel for Mr O’Brien, Patrick Whyms BL, said a psychiatric report recorded how former friends and acquaintances “will no longer talk” to Mr O’Brien because of the offences.

Mr Whyms said the report recorded that Mr O’Brien “is clearly not welcome at community events” and that his friendship with Mr Ford is over.

He added that Mr O’Brien “is going to live with the shame and disgrace” of the offences for the rest of his life.

Mr Whyms said people who owe Mr O’Brien money were refusing to pay him on account of his crimes and that he was wrongly accused of other thefts in the locality.

Counsel said Mr O’Brien was also subjected to verbal and physical threats.

He said his client had paid more than €17,000 to Mr Ford after an independent assessment of the compensation due following the offences.

Mr O’Brien’s thefts in May 2013 and December 2013 went undetected.

However, his third theft in January 2015 was discovered as a result of a hard frost, as the hooves of the stolen cattle left imprints in the frost that formed a trail to Mr O’Brien’s farm.

Det Bernard Casey said he asked Mr O’Brien to allow the detective search his property.

During the search, Mr Casey discovered five of the missing heifers in a segregated area.

However, Mr O’Brien denied all knowledge of the three thefts.

Investigation

The court heard that a 10-month investigation saw Mr Casey searching farms across the State for the missing animals, using DNA technology.

Mr Casey said that, along with the five heifers recovered after the initial search, he recovered another three using DNA technology, followed by a fourth after admissions by Mr O’Brien.

Mr Whyms said that the work done by Mr Casey in the case “is without question the most outstanding piece of police work I have ever seen.

“Your presentation of the evidence could be included in a manual and the thoroughness with how each animal was traced down and resolved is remarkable.”

After Mr Casey identified the missing animals, Mr O’Brien was questioned by gardaí.

He told them: “I am sorry [for] what I have done.”

Mr Casey said that the solving of the crime “was tinged with sadness for the Fords, because they had a close bond with Padraig O’Brien”.

Mr Whyms said Mr O’Brien was under financial pressure at the time of the thefts and that pressure was what drove him to commit the offences.

Judge Gerald Keys said that he required time to read the reports in the case and remanded Mr O’Brien on bail to re-appear before him next Friday.