A Judge has told an elderly Donegal farmer that he should not be near or in control of any living creatures.

Judge Paul Kelly has ordered Leslie Stewart, 69, not to keep any animals on his farm after several horses and donkeys were found starving on his lands.

Judge Kelly made his comments at Letterkenny District Court where Mr Stewart faced four charges in connection with animal cruelty.

Animal welfare inspectors outlined to the court how they visited Mr Stewart’s farm at The Thorn in Letterkenny on several occasions.

During their visits they told how they found animals in various states of starvation.

Veterinary Inspector with the Department of Agriculture, Desmond Lavin, told the court that he visited the six acre site on a number of occasions.

He revealed how he was forced to euthanise a number of animals including two donkeys, two calves and a pony during different inspections.

The two calves were found locked in a small shed and lying in up to eight inches of cow manure with no feed.

A dead donkey found on Leslie Stewart's farm.

A dead donkey found on Leslie Stewart’s farm.

Judge Paul Kelly asked Inspector Lavin what he knew of Mr Stewart.

He replied that since he started working as a veterinary inspector in 1998, Mr Stewart is a source of regular complaints and that he had 25 previous convictions in relation to animal welfare.

He also told the court that in 2000 he had been banned from keeping sheep for 15 years.

Solicitor for Stewart, Mr Kieran O’Gorman, said his client did not pay for any of the animals of his farm but that he had taken them after they were abandoned.

“He has put his hands up and this is a lesson to him. He did not purchase them bit took them in and did not have the ground or the feed to feed them. He thought he was doing the right thing,” said Mr O’Gorman.

He added that his client no longer had any animals but this was disputed by Inspector Lavin and ISPCA Inspector Kevin McGinley.

Judge Paul Kelly said he was seriously considering a jail sentence in the case.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that this warrants a custodial sentence. I would be willing to consider a suspension or partial suspension but a condition of any such suspension that he would not keep any animals on his property.

“I want to be sure that there are no animals on his property, I want to verify that. This man should not be near or in control of any living creature,” he said.

He asked both Inspector McGinley and Inspector Lavin to inspect Stewart’s lands and adjourned the case back to court on November 1st for sentencing.

“The only reason I’m considering suspending the sentence is because of his advanced years and circumstances,” added Judge Kelly.


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