A pig farmer who was fined E900 for failing to adequately dispose of dead pigs was told by a District Court judge he would have gone to jail if he had previous convictions for the offence.
Dermot Murphy, Kilmore, Enfield, was found to have allowed the dead animals to lie around the yard of his farm near the M4 motorway in Enfield.
Judge Conal Gibbons, who praised the professionalism of the investigating Department of Agriculture inspector, Christopher O’Brien Lynch, fined Mr. Murphy, just a hundred euro less than the maximum fine for the offence at Kilcock District Court on 3 April.
Extraordinarily serious was how Judge Gibbons described the offence, adding that he believed Mr. Murphy did not have any remorse for his actions.
Mr. Murphy pleaded guilty.
In the case brought by Garda Stephen Sargent of Celbridge Garda Station, Mr. O’Brien Lynch said he inspected the property of Mr. Murphy on 27 March 2010 at Kilmorebranagh, County Kildare, along with Garda Sargent.
He found the carcasses of third dead pigs and, in addition, some scatter pig bones in the yard.
He found wild cats eating the carcasses, which, he estimated were lying there for some time.
He told David Powderly, solicitor representing Mr. Murphy, that the defendant had ample time to get the dead animals taken away by a company called College Proteins, which, he added, was very efficient.
Mr. Murphy’s case was that the pigs, of which, he said, he had 800, had suffered a virus and that there were dead one’s than usual for the. He had containers in which he could put them for removal from the farm but these were full quickly because of the high numbers dying.
Mr. O’Brien Lynch, who has been inspecting farms in the Meath area since 1995, said on a scale of zero to ten, sanitation at the farm was close to zero.
He said he had good relations with Mr. Murphy over the years but “my patience ran out.”
He had advised Mr. Murphy to get two bins which could have taken all the carcasses. He doubted that College Proteins would leave Mr. Murphy without a timely collection, if they were contacted.
Mr. O’Brien Lynch said it was also planned to shut down the Kilmore operation run by Mr. Murphy, but that was a separate issue.
Mr. Murphy told the Court, he worked for another farmer.
Judge Gibbons was told that Mr. Murphy had no previous convictions for an offence of this type.
Mr. Powderly said the Department of Agriculture was not seeking significant fines.
Judge Gibbons said he was concerned about the public interest. “What about the people living near that appalling place,” he said.
The Judge was not just concerned with the human health aspect of the case.
The Court was told that Ireland had one of the highest animal hygiene regimes following the BSE crisis some years ago.
But Judge Gibbons also said that animals should be treated with dignity, including dead ones. “There is a dignity in farming,” he said.
He told Mr. Murphy: “You are not the slightest bit remorseful.”
He praised Mr. O’Brien Lynch for his professionalism and the “extraordinary fair” way in which he presented his evidence. Mr. O’Brien Lynch said that so far the Department of Agriculture had not sought costs in these prosecution cases.