Man jailed for cruelty to at-risk horses


A MAN who has contracts with nine local authorities to take in and care for horses which are at risk or abandoned has been convicted of cruelty to animals and sentenced to 16 months in jail.

The veterinary inspector who visited the site said two horses he put to sleep had “suffered institutional abuse” and should have been going to a place of “solace and comfort” but were entirely neglected.

At he imposed sentence at Trim District Court yesterday on Joseph Moran (44), Clonymeath, Summerhill, Co Meath, Judge Patrick McMahon said he was “surprised” Moran still had contracts with local authorities.

Moran’s 31 acres at Clonymeath were visited by department veterinary inspector Christopher O’Brien Lynch on April 17th last year after complaints were made by the ISPCA and others in relation to concerns about both living and dead horses.

In a field he found two small bay horses and using a scientific scale ranging from zero to five which rates the condition of the animal, with five being fat and zero being skeletal, he found the horses to be 0.5 or less.

Their ribs were prominent, they were sitting on the ground, their heads were hanging and their coats were matted and soiled with urine and faeces. Both were dull, listless and deeply distressed, he said. He euthanised them immediately.

There was no water available and it was “an unseasonally warm day”. Mr O’Brien Lynch said Moran said no water had been given to them since he collected them three days earlier in Co Laois. On the same day he found the carcasses of five horses. Some, he estimated, had been there for three months; one was of a horse straddled on a submerged tree in a river, and another was of a horse that likely became submerged in mud.

Nineteen other horses were on the lands and he was “entirely” satisfied with their condition and a concern he had about the quality of their feed had been resolved.

Mr O’Brien Lynch said that in his 37 years in his profession he found the case “very distressing”. He said the animals were collected because they were vulnerable or abandoned and were taken in on behalf of the State and then had “suffered institutional abuse. They didn’t come from good homes and should have had a week or two of solace and comfort [at Moran’s].”

Shane Patrick Murray, defending, said his client has contracts with nine local authorities and he collects horses running loose or abandoned and he serves enforcement notices on encampments where he is “not welcome”. Mr Murray said his client has had his assistance sought by the ISPCA, the Dublin SPCA and the Horse Welfare Trust and some people were prepared to give evidence on his behalf until their superiors told them not to get involved. His client accepted he “took his eye off the ball,” and that he fell down in his duties, Mr Murray said.

Sentencing him to five months on each summons of cruelty to the horses which were put to sleep, the judge said he was “surprised” the various local authorities “are still giving contracts to this man”.

He also imposed two-month sentences on four summonses for letting carcasses remain unburied. All but one are to run consecutively, meaning the total sentence imposed was 16 months.