The High Court overturned some convictions and sentences handed down against an Agriculture Ministry official who admitted to having dead and injured animals on his land.
The Agriculture Minister has called for orders quashing some, but not all, of the convictions handed down earlier this year against Bernard, also known as Brian Kilgariff, who, as a senior Agriculture Department official, had investigated animal welfare issues.
Last June, the official was convicted in Sligo District Court for animal neglect and animal welfare violations, and for his failure to have his animals tested for tuberculosis and bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) since 2016.
The allegations against him included that he had violated the Carcass Disposal Regulations, 2015.
Mr. Kilgariff has pleaded guilty to a number of charges relating to neglect or recklessness with respect to the health or welfare of an animal.
District Court Judge Kevin Kilraine sentenced Mr Kilgariff (64) of Bricklieve, Castlebaldwin, Co Sligo to four months in prison, suspended for two years, on each of the animal carcass charges and animal welfare charges.
Mr Kilgariff was also found guilty on both counts and fined € 1,000 in each case.
The convictions and sentences were not appealed, the court said.
In the High Court judicial review proceeding, the Minister, represented by Mark Dunne SC, said the District Court judge erred in law and exceeded his jurisdiction by imposing a suspended prison sentence of four months for offenses relating to the disposal of carcassed animals.
The two counts he pleaded guilty to, Mr Dunne told court on Tuesday, were that on dates between December 16, 2019 and January 24, 2020 in Bricklieve, Castlebaldwin, Co Sligo, he cleared the carcass of an animal, namely a cow, to be on land to which a dog may have access.
His actions were considered violations of the Carcass Disposal Regulations 2015, the lawyer said.
The maximum penalty that could be imposed for such an offense under these regulations is a fine, the lawyer said.
The error in this aspect of the conviction was not noticed by the prosecution until the end of the hearing in the district court, added the lawyer.
As a result, the Minister initiated proceedings to overturn the suspended sentences and the convictions for the two breaches of the 2015 regulations.
The sentencing error was not noticed by the prosecution until after the hearing was over, the lawyer said.
The minister did not seek to refer these cases to the district court.
The lawyer added that the remainder of the District Court’s orders against Mr Kilgariff are valid and remain intact.
This includes the order under the Animal Welfare Act 2013 prohibiting him from holding a hearing number for five years, which the minister said was legally and within jurisdiction.
The case was brought before Judge Charles Meenan who said he was satisfied to grant the orders requested by the Minister.
Mr Kilgariff was neither present nor represented at Tuesday’s hearing.
However, the judge said he was satisfied from the evidence that Mr Kilgariff had been informed and served the relevant documentation in the proceedings.
The judge added that Mr Kilgariff had not been harmed by the orders sought, adding that the orders setting aside the convictions and sentences were to his advantage.