Farmers get suspended sentences for obstructing animal inspections
Judge says the Caseys’ campaign could have affected reputation of Irish beef industry
John Casey jnr and John Casey at a previous hearing at Killarney District Court. File photograph: Michelle Cooper Galvin
A father and son who engaged in a campaign of obstruction to prevent Department of Agriculture officials from checking their cattle, have been given suspended jail terms.
John C Casey, known as Christy Casey (60), was given a four-month suspended prison sentence for 14 offences. His son, John Casey (37) jnr, was given a three-month suspended sentence for seven offences by Judge David Waters.
Both men from Crosstown, Killarney, Co Kerry had pleaded guilty earlier this year to offences between April 30th, 2014 and February 19th, 2015 at various addresses in Co Kerry and Co Cork where they kept cattle.
Judge Waters told both defendants at Killarney District Court on Monday they had engaged in a prolonged and deliberate campaign lasting several months to obstruct officials. He said their actions were designed to frustrate officials from checking their herd registers and bovine passports and from inspecting their cattle in keeping with regulations to ensure the traceability of animals.
Such actions could have had serious repercussions, not just for fellow farmers but for the wider Irish beef sector, which had built up a reputation for traceability .
Defence solicitor Pádraig O’Connell pleaded for leniency, saying they had pleaded guilty at an early stage. He produced a psychiatric report on Casey jnr which showed he was socially reclusive and that farming was his life and he feared he might be prevented from keeping cattle again. The court heard while both men were adept with livestock, they were less adept with paperwork.
But Judge Waters dismissed the idea that it was simply a matter of both men being unable to cope with the paperwork, saying the evidence was they had concealed herd numbers, bovine passports and cattle from Departmental inspectors.
Department of Agriculture vet Louis Rearden had told a previous hearing the Caseys had steadfastly refused to co-operate with officials on several occasions and on one occasion when he asked Casey jnr to tell him where some cattle were, Casey jnr replied: “Go find them.”
He said Casey jnr on one occasion falsely reported to gardaí that three animals had gone missing and then used a photocopy of a Garda stamp on the report and forged a garda signature to avoid having to produce animals for inspection.
Mr Rearden said department officials found two animals, which were recorded as being registered within seven days of their birth, were four and five months old and they had to use DNA testing to identify another five animals. They were unable to identify another animal, while a further 116 animals simply disappeared and could not be traced, he said.
Imposing a four-month suspended term on Casey snr, the judge also ordered him to pay €4,000 in costs and expenses. He imposed a three-month suspended term on Casey jnr and ordered him to pay €1,000.