Man accused of deception over pony sale knew deal ‘dead in the water’

Michael Kearins claims Terri Ewing agreed to take different animal when neighbour changed mind

International showjumper Michael Kearins.

International showjumper Michael Kearins.


An international showjumper accused of deceiving a family who agreed to buy two ponies from him has said the deal was “dead in the water” when a neighbour who owned one of the animals decided not to sell.

Michael Kearins told Sligo Circuit Court that he learned on October 9th, 2012 that a skewbald pony, known both as Buddy and Soldier, was not available as the owner Felix Burke no longer wanted to sell.

Mr Kearins, with an address at Knockbeg, Collooney, Co Sligo, but currently living in the US, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of deception between August 24th, 2012 and October 19th, 2012.

The court has heard that Donegal-born businessman Sean Ewing negotiated a deal with Mr Kearins for two ponies, Buddy and a gray mare known both as Blue Rose and Teddy, to be delivered to his home in Majorca. Mr Ewing and his wife Terri have say they were devastated when a pony named Spot rather than Buddy was delivered.

Mr Kearins said he had a telephone conversation with Mrs Ewing on October 10th, 2012 about the fact that Buddy was no longer for sale and that it was agreed that he would source another pony for the Ewing children. Mrs Ewings denies that this conversation happened.

Dara Foynes, prosecuting, cited a number of emails sent to the defendant, including one dated October 18th, 2012, nine days after Mr Burke said Buddy was not for sale, in which Mr Ewing outlined the terms of the agreement for the purchase of Buddy and Teddy.

Ms Foynes pointed out that Mr Kearins had replied “I agree”.

‘My life’

In his evidence, Mr Kearins told defence counsel Patrick O’Sullivan that “horses are my life” and that he had sold horses for between €50,000 and €400,000.

He said he went to live in Holland in October 2012 after being offered work by a horse owner. He said he owned the grey mare Teddy, which he offered for sale on the Done Deal website for €15,000. This was one of the ponies viewed by the Ewings along with Buddy, who was owned by Mr Burke.

The accused said he talked to Mr Burke about selling Buddy and was told he wanted €4,000 for the pony and that Mr Kearins was free to get some commission.

Mr Kearins said he asked for €8,000 as a starting point and that at one stage he had an agreement with Mr Ewing who was to buy the two ponies for €20,000, which included the cost of transporting the animals. The figures broke down as €10,000 for Teddy, €6,500 for Buddy and €3,500 for transportation.

Det Garda Joseph Scanlon told the court it took him 4½ years to make contact with Mr Kearins when he started investigating the case.


He received a complaint from Mr Ewing on November 1st, 2012 - two days after Teddy and Spot arrived in Majorca. He said he got a warrant to access the defendant’s bank account in June 2015 and saw that €10,000 had been received from Mr Ewing on October 5th, 2012.

Det Scanlon told the jury that he visited the home of Mr Kearins’ parents after receiving the complaint and was given a foreign telephone number for the accused but could not get a reply.

Asked why it had taken him until June 2nd, 2017 to arrest Mr Kearins, Det Scanlon replied: “It took me that length to get him”. He told the court that he made contact with Mr Kearins when he returned home for his grandfather’s funeral.

Mr Burke told the court that he owned Buddy in 2012 and Mr Kearins told him he had a potential buyer. He said he later changed his mind about selling as it was dragging on for too long and the pony was performing well at events.

The trial continues.