Three women and a man appeared in court last week charged with multiple counts of animal neglect after a search involving gardaí and ISPCA officials led to the seizure of almost 30 cats and dogs, writes Liam Cosgrove.
Jonathan Wykes, Chantel Stokes, Margaret Stokes, all of Lisnanagh, Edgeworthstown, Co Longford and Lucy McDonnell, 6 Storeyvale, Rooskey, Co Roscommon were all charged with various offences under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013.
Sgt Mick Hogan said a search of a property at Lisnanagh, Edgeworthstown, Co Longford was carried out on May 7 2020.
He said gardaí, together with ISPCA inspectors came across 41 animals on the property, which was described in court as being a “compound” which houses threefamilies.
Sgt Hogan said as a result of the search 11 dogs, four puppies, two cats and ten kittens were seized, whilst revealing that two female dogs had since given birth to pups.
Sgt Hogan said the animals were examined by a veterinary surgeon with their overall health being ranked in the “1.5 to 3.5” bracket out of five.
He also contended a number of animals found on the property were provided with dirty drinking water while some had none at all.
It was also his belief, the Granard based sergeant added, that the property was being used as an unauthorised breeding establishment.
Sgt Hogan indicated the case was also likely to include charges being levelled against three other individuals who were currently not before the courts with one of those presently confined to a wheelchair.
In defence, solicitor Bríd Mimnagh said her clients were keen to profess their innocence over the allegations with the local solicitor also suggesting the four accused were anxious to see an alternative judge adjudicate over the case.
She said this was due to a feeling there was a preconceived “bias against them”.
In roundly dismissing those claims, Judge Hughes was forced to adjourn proceedings briefly after concerns linked to social distancing protocols led to a momentary confrontation between Mr Wykes and gardaí inside the courtroom.
When the case returned, Judge Hughes again refuted any assertions he may have acted improperly against any of the accused in previous and unrelated court summonses.
“I would say I treated this family more fairly than most,” he said.
“I never made any disparaging remarks and I never personalised it.
“It annoys me when I am asked to recuse myself.”
The case was adjourned until a sitting of Longford District Court on September 18.