Cork farmer allowed pigs eat each other alive

Pig producer pleads guilty to not preventing suffering by failing to treat aimals eaten by others

A pig producer has pleaded guilty to animal welfare offences including causing suffering to his pigs by failing to treat or euthanise them after they were cannibalised on his farm.

Rory O’Brien pleaded guilty to five charges including that he failed to prevent unnecessary suffering by failing to treat or euthanise some animals which were eaten alive by others.

Mr O'Brien of Killicane, Mitchelstown, Co Cork, had initially pleaded not guilty to a total of 32 charges arising from an investigation by officials from the Dept of Agriculture.

He and his wife, Monica O'Brien had each been charged with 32 offences while their farm manager, Seamus Curran had been charged with 24 offences on after the investigation.

All three denied the charges when they were arraigned before the jury panel and Judge Sean O Donnabhain at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

However, following discussions between counsel Rory O’Brien was re-arraigned on five specific charges to which he pleaded guilty.

O’Brien pleaded guilty to failing to take the necessary steps to ensure the welfare of pigs in his possession at his farm at Killicane, Mitchelstown between May 3rd and Sept 8th, 2011. The charge is contrary to European animal welfare regulations.

O’Brien also pleaded guilty to failing to comply with a welfare notice; causing unnecessary suffering to a pig by failing to treat or euthanise it after it had its flesh eaten; was bleeding due to its flesh been eaten; swollen joints or chronic abscesses.

Ms Fawsett said the State was entering a nolle prosequi, a decision not to prosecute, against O'Brien in respect of the remaining 27 charges, against Monica O'Brien and against Seamus Curran.

Defence counsel for O'Brien, Ken Fogarty SC sought an adjournment to allow expert witnesses to give evidence for his client.

These would include a veterinary expert and an accountant.

Mr Fogarty said his client was facing fines of up to €100,000 and/or three years in jail on two counts, which were under European animal welfare legislation.

His client was also facing penalties on the remaining three counts under Irish legislation of fines up to €10,000 and/or two years in jail, said Mr Fogarty.

Judge O Donnabhain granted the application and remanded O’Brien on continuing bail to appear again at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on February 12th for sentence.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times