Farmer (74) jailed for shooting man and dog as part of land feud
Ted O’Donoghue involved in dispute over Co Limerick right of way for ‘40 years’, court told
A farmer has been given a partially suspended sentence for shooting a man and his dog as part of a feud over a right of way in Co Limerick.
A farmer has been given a partially suspended prison sentence for shooting a man and his dog as part of a feud over a right of way in Co Limerick.
Ted O’Donoghue (74) had pleaded guilty at Limerick Circuit Court to charges of recklessly discharging a firearm, assault causing harm to John Hayes (66), and one count of animal cruelty on June 16th, 2017 at Ballycasey, Kildimo.
Anthony Salmon SC, for O’Donoghue, had insisted at a previous hearing that the Director of Public Prosecution’s view was that there had been “no intent” to endanger Mr Hayes. His client deeply regretted what had happened.
The right of way is located on O’Donghue’s land and is the access route to a number of other farmers’ lands. A neighbour told gardaí there had been tensions between O’Donghue and other farmers about the right of way for “40 years”. O’Donoghue had “tried to deal with it through solicitors” but it went nowhere and the issue was “like an obsession boiling over”, Mr Salmon said.
The court heard that at around 10.30am on the day of the shooting, Mr Hayes was met by O’Donoghue as he went to open an access gate at the disputed passageway. O’Donoghue said he told Mr Hayes “you are never coming in here again” and fired at him. A spray of pellets from the shotgun travelled through Mr Hayes’s tractor, wounding his shoulder and killing his sheepdog, Lassie.
O’Donoghue told gardaí he believed the passageway was being destroyed by tractors travelling up and down it and that Mr Hayes was “trespassing”.
Judge Tom O’Donnell sentenced O’Donoghue, of Kilmoreen, Kildimo, to 2½ years in prison with the final 18 months suspended. He will be able to spend Christmas with his family as the sentence was deferred to January 7th.
In a victim impact statement Mr Hayes said he had become “withdrawn socially, fearful, and stressed” after the shooting.
“I was sure he was going to kill me. He had an angry look about him.”