Horsebreeding family fined over unauthorised animal remedies

Yeomanstown Stud O’Callaghan family members in court for horse drugs

Gay O’Callaghan, Annette O’Callaghan and their son, David O’Callaghan, had pleaded guilty in December at Naas District Court to eight counts against them related to the possessions.

Gay O’Callaghan, Annette O’Callaghan and their son, David O’Callaghan, had pleaded guilty in December at Naas District Court to eight counts against them related to the possessions.

 

Three members of the O’Callaghan family, horsebreeders at Yeomanstown Stud in Co Kildare, have been fined for possession of unauthorised animal remedies.

Gay O’Callaghan, Annette O’Callaghan and their son, David O’Callaghan, had pleaded guilty in December at Naas District Court to eight counts against them related to the possessions.

The maximum penalty in each charge is €5,000.

On Monday at the court Judge Desmond Zaidan fined David O’Callaghan, manager of the stud, a total of €8,000, made up of €2,000 for each of four charges and four others taken into consideration.

Ms O’Callaghan was fined a total of €6,000, made up of €2,000 for each of three charges and five others taken into consideration.

Gay O’Callaghan was fined €8,000 in total, made up of €,2000 for each of four charges and four others taken into consideration.

Mull Enterprises Ltd, for which eight guilty please were entered, was fined a total of €10,000 for five charges, with three taken into consideration.

Jim Cosgrove of Cosgrove Pharmacy, Edward Street, Newbridge, who had also previously pleaded guilty to 10 counts in relation to the supply of animal remedies to the stud was also fined. He received a total penalty of €6,000 for three charges, with seven others taken into consideration.

Ten guilty pleas had previously been entered for Cosgrove Pharmacy Ltd and the company was fined a total of €8,000 for four charges, with six taken into consideration.

Local veterinarian

Local veterinarian Alice Bena Hickey, The Curragh, Co Kildare, entered guilty pleas in December on two counts but pleaded not guilty to a third, related to the sale of animal remedies not in accordance with regulations. Her case has been listed for September 4th.

The case was taken by the Department of Agricultural under the European Community (Animal Remedies) (no 2) Regulations 2007.

The court was told that Mr Cosgrove supplied remedies without the knowledge of the superintendent pharmacist. He made full disclosure and a significant contribution to the department’s case, and pleaded guilty to the charges at the earliest opportunity, the court heard.

Department of Agriculture veterinary inspector Louis Reardon, gave evidence that when a special investigations unit arrived at the stud farm on September 12th, 2014, to carry out an inspection “it quickly became apparent there was unauthorised product present”.

He took possession of three animal remedy products from an open shed in the yard. David O’Callaghan was out of the country on that occasion.

Officials obtained a search warrant and Gay O’Callaghan asked to contact his solicitor and did so.

Mr Reardon said his team was beginning to get concerned with the delay and went into the house. He said he found an employee attempting to remove animal health remedies from the basement.

Mr Reardon said he seized a large quantity of animal remedies.

Mr Reardon said it was his view the stud was behaving as if there were no regulations whatsoever. The remedies seized included Dormosedan, an American veterinary sedative only authorised for use in the US by a veterinary surgeon and technically unauthorised in Ireland.

Cancer risk

They also found an animal remedy whose use is expressly prohibited on food-producing animals because it has the potential to cause cancer. It was out of date for 10 years but he believed was still in use. David O’Callaghan told the court only five grammes out of a 500g tub had ever been used. He acknowledged it should have been disposed of years previously.

A “front line” antibiotic not licensed for use in horses except in certain conditions was also seized, as was phenylbutazone, a potent anti-inflammatory and painkiller. Horse passports must be stamped if this is used, to ensure the animal does not enter the food chain because it was potentially carcinogenic, Mr Reardon said.

The unit identified seven or eight animals and examined close to 200 horse passports.

Mr Reardon said passports were not stamped by the stud to expressly ensure animals treated with carcinogenic remedies did not go into the food chain.

Cross-examined by Martin Hayden SC for the O’Callaghan and Mull Enterprises Ltd, Mr Reardon said they found a foal passport that was not the property of the farm.

He said there was a legal requirement for a veterinary surgeon to stamp the passport to exclude an animal from the food chain.

David O’Callaghan said the foal in question had never been on the farm, that it was practice to give the passport to the stud until payment for services.

Mr Hayden said the farm bred thoroughbred horses and none went for food production. Mr Reardon said horses could be traded a number of times and could eventually end up in the food chain if they were perhaps not successful on the race track.

Mr Reardon said it was his view that David O’Callaghan was “somewhat less than entirely honest” when he was subsequently interviewed. “Some of the answers were at variance with the documentation.”

David O’Callaghan said he answered the questions as best as he could.

He described what happened as a systems failure. But they had put a new system in place with medicines under lock and key in the yard.

The stud paid about €150,000 in veterinary fees every year so it was not done to avoid a vet, he added.