The High Court has set aside certain convictions and sentences imposed on a Department of Agriculture official who admitted having dead and injured animals on his lands.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue sought the orders quashing some, but not all, convictions imposed earlier this year on Bernard, otherwise Brian, Kilgariff (64) of Bricklieve, Castlebaldwin, Co Sligo.

As a senior official with the Department of Agriculture, Kilgariff had previously investigated animal welfare issues himself.

Last June, the Kilgariff was convicted before Sligo District Court of animal neglect and animal welfare breaches and over his failure to have his animals tested for TB and bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) since 2016.

The allegations against him included that he had breached the 2015 disposal of carcases regulations.

Guilty plea

Kilgariff pleaded guilty to a number of charges relating to neglect or being reckless regarding the health or welfare of an animal.

District court Judge Kevin Kilraine gave Kilgariff a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, on each of the charges relating to the animal carcases and the animal welfare charges.

Kilgariff was also convicted on the two testing charges and fined €1,000 in each matter.

The convictions and sentences were not appealed, the court heard.

Minister’s representation

In High Court judicial review proceedings, Minister McConalogue, represented by senior counsel Mark Dunne, said that the district court judge erred in law and acted in excess of its jurisdiction by imposing a concurrent four-month suspended prison sentence in respect of offences concerning the disposal of animal carcases.

Dunne told the court on Tuesday that the two charges Kilgariff had pleaded guilty to were those on dates between 16 December 2019 and 24 January 2020.

At Bricklieve, Castlebaldwin, Co Sligo, Kilgariff allowed the carcasse of an animal, namely a cow, to be on lands which a dog may have had access.

Maximum penalty

Mark Dunne said Kilgariff’s actions were deemed to be breaches of the 2015 disposal of carcases regulations and that the maximum penalty that could be imposed for such an offence under those regulations is a fine.

He said that the error in that aspect of the sentencing was only noticed by the prosecution after the hearing before the district court had concluded.

As a result, Minister McConalogue brought proceedings aimed at having the suspended sentences and the convictions in respect of the two breaches of the 2015 regulations quashed.

The Minister was not seeking to have the matters remitted back before the district court.

Remaining orders

Counsel added that the remainder of the district court's orders against Kilgariff are valid and remain intact.

This includes the order under the 2013 Animal Welfare Act disqualifying him from holding a herd number for five years, which Minister McConalogue says was lawfully made and within jurisdiction.

The matter came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan, who said he was satisfied to grant the orders sought by Minister McConalogue.

Kilgariff was not present nor represented during Tuesday's hearing.

However, the judge said that he was satisfied from the evidence that Kilgariff had been made aware of and served with the relevant documentation for Tuesday’s proceedings.

The judge added that Kilgariff was not prejudiced by the orders sought, adding that the orders quashing the convictions and sentences were to his benefit.

The Irish Farmers Journal understands that Mr Kilgariff no longer works for the Department of Agriculture.