Northern Ireland news

Donegal farmer banned from keeping animals for 10 years after being found guilty of animal cruelty

The carcass of a sheep was left unburied on Leslie Stewart's farm
Marie Louise McConville

A DONEGAL farmer has been banned from keeping animals for 10 years after being found guilty of repeated animal cruelty.

Leslie Stewart, from The Thorn, Letterkenny, was convicted of a number of offences at Letterkenny District Court on Monday.

The case resulted from multiple inspections of the 74-year-old's farm by officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), assisted by Kevin McGinley, a Senior Inspector from the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The visits led to the discovery of several animals of different species in various states of neglect on the farm.

Mr Stewart had previously received a two year disqualification from keeping animals and a suspended jail sentence in 2016 for cruelty to horses and donkeys discovered on his property.

At a previous court hearing on September 6, Mr Stewart entered guilty pleas to 16 of the 30 charges.

At that time, DAFM Veterinary Inspector Brian Gormley gave evidence of his findings, and the court was shown photographs taken by senior inspector McGinley.

The offences related to dogs being kept in a van without water, allowing the carcass of a sheep to remain unburied, and keeping pigs and poultry in trailers without adequate access to water.

Three collie type dogs were removed from a locked van and assessed for symptoms of heat stroke.

Mr Stewart was fined a total of €1,500 and also banned from keeping animals for 10 years.

He was also sentenced to a total of four months in jail, suspended for 12 months.

Judge Éiteáin Cunningham described the case as "horrendous" and "disturbing", adding that Mr Stewart had clearly "not learned" from the experience of his previous two year ban.

She also gave an order that any animals on the land, understood to be two dogs and a number of poultry, were to be seized.

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