Letterkenny farmer on animal charges to be sentenced in June

February 9, 2024

A Letterkenny farmer accused of handling or controlling a dog and sheep despite a court order banning him from keeping animals for a decade will be sentenced in June.

Leslie Stewart was due to be sentenced this week at Letterkenny District Court.

The 75-year-old is charged with keeping, controlling or handling a collie dog and also a sheep and two lambs on separate occasions in October, 2022 and also in April, 2023.

It follows a decision by a Judge in September, 2022 to ban Stewart from keeping animals for a period of ten years.

Stewart was found guilty by Judge Éiteáin Cunningham of a number of charges after animal welfare officers called to his farm at The Thorn outside Letterkenny on various dates.

His case was briefly mentioned before Judge Vincent Deane at Letterkenny District Court this week.

The Department of Agriculture was represented by Ms Helen Johnson, BL, while solicitor Mr Kieran O’Gorman acted on behalf of Stewart.

The matter was put back to June 4 for finalisation by Judge Éiteáin Cunningham

He had already served a two year ban and received a suspended jail sentence imposed by Judge Paul Kelly in 2016 after ISPCA officers and vets found several horses and donkeys starving on his property.

Officers continued to monitor Stewart and on further dates between May, 2019 and April, 2021, they found animals in various states of distress as a result of Stewart’s cruelty.

The carcasses of dead sheep were found on his lands with dogs nearby.

Stewart was also charged with keepings pigs in a trailer without enough water, keeping dogs in a van without water and keeping poultry in a small locked trailer without water.

Judge Cunningham described the case as ‘horrendous’ and ‘disturbing’ and as well as banning him from keeping animals for a further ten years, she fined him €1,500.

On this occasion, Stewart is accused on two separate instances between the October 4-28, 2022, at The Thorn, Letterkenny, he kept, or had charge or control of an animal, to wit a collie dog, in breach of the disqualification order dated 4th October, 2022 and contrary to section 58 (8) of the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013.

He is also charged that on April 9, 2023, at or near The Glebe, Letterkenny, had charge or control of animals, to wit a sheep and two lambs, in breach of the disqualification order dated October 4, 2022 and contrary to section 58(8) of the Animal Health and Welfare Act, 2013.