Man who sourced ponies on DoneDeal ‘flabbergasted’ when they arrived
Teddy the Connemara mare was lame, and Spot the skewbald was ill, court hears
International showjumper Michael Kearins
An Irish businessman who told a court he had been chairman of a major global company worth $1 billion dollars said he was subjected to “betrayal and lies” after agreeing to buy two ponies off a well-known Sligo horseman.
Sean Ewing, who negotiated the sale of two ponies with showjumper Michael Kearins, said he was “flabbergasted” when the two animals arrived in Majorca in 2012, because he had never seen one of them before.
He had been expecting a skewbald pony called Buddy, but instead got a skewbald called Spot, Sligo Circuit Court heard.
Michael Kearins, with an address at Knockbeg, Collooney, Co Sligo, but who is currently living in the US, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of deception between August 24th, 2012 and October 19th, 2012.
His solicitor Tom MacSharry told an earlier court sitting that he was a member of the Irish showjumping federation. Mr Ewing said it would be “just preposterous” to suggest that he had agreed to take a pony similar to the one he had negotiated to buy, given that he and his wife had travelled around Ireland searching for a pony with the right temperament.
He told the court that he and his wife had agreed to purchase two ponies from Mr Kearins, a grey Connemara mare called Teddy and Buddy the skewbald.
Mr Ewing, who is originally from Donegal, told the court he made contact with the accused after seeing an advert on website DoneDeal, as he was looking for a pony for his daughters then aged 10 and eight.
On the second day of the trial he told a jury of eight men and four women that Buddy was a much fitter, more athletic, animal who was like an athlete in training, while Spot was like an older person who was frail. When the two ponies arrived in Majorca where he was living with his family in 2012, he said Teddy was lame and Spot was ill.
The court was shown footage of Mr Ewing’s wife and daughter riding Buddy when they went to see him at an outdoor arena in Claremorris, Co Mayo. He said they had seen the pony three times before agreeing to buy. Judge Francis Comerford was told that an agreement was reached to buy two ponies for €20,000.
It was agreed that a deposit of €10,000 would be paid from a family trust fund, with the balance to be paid when the ponies arrived in Majorca.
However, the court heard that when Mr Ewing was away on business his wife got an email from a haulage company saying it was leaving Sligo with just one pony and that her husband was liable for the transportation costs, which she said was not in line with the agreement. Subsequently two ponies were sent to Majorca – Teddy and a skewbald, identified in a passport as Spot.
Defence counsel Patrick O’Sullivan told the court that there was no dispute about the fact that Spot was not the pony the Ewings had seen in Ireland.
Mr O’Sullivan told the jury that Michael Kearins will tell the court that Buddy was owned by another man Felix Burke who decided that because of the long delay in negotiations, that he no longer wanted to sell the animal. Mr Kearins would also say that he had a conversation with Mrs Ewing about this and agreed with her that he would source another pony which would be suitable for children.
Even though he had a number of ponies of his own, he would tell the court that he bought another skewbald, Spot, for the Ewings after seeing an eight-year-old ride it.
Mrs Ewing said this suggestion was “ridiculous, ludicrous and insane”. The conversation never took place. She said she had travelled all over Ireland with her husband looking for a pony with the right temperament because safety was her priority when buying a pony for her children.
She said she would never entertain buying a pony she had not seen. She said Spot was very ill when he arrived and had kicked her in the back of the legs. The other pony was lame and could not be used for showjumping, so they were incurring livery and vets bills for both.
Under cross-examination by Mr O’Sullivan, Sean Ewing denied that he was arrested on suspicion of fraud in California.
Mr Ewing said that he was chairman of a large global company worth $1 billion and the issue was a books and records violation against an employee.
Mr Ewing said he was never indicted and all matters pursuant to him were dismissed with prejudice. He said he made an offer of $8 million which was accepted by investigators in 2016.