‘Cruel torture’ of bloodied sulky pony in Limerick

Mike Dwane


Mike Dwane

Limerick Courthouse
A GARDA with a lifetime’s experience of horses has told Limerick District Court that the flogging of a prostrate animal at the Kilmallock Road roundabout at the hands of a Southill teenager amounted to “cruel torture”

A GARDA with a lifetime’s experience of horses has told Limerick District Court that the flogging of a prostrate animal at the Kilmallock Road roundabout at the hands of a Southill teenager amounted to “cruel torture”

Shane Ryan, 18, denied an animal cruelty charge at Limerick District Court, saying he had merely being trying to get the pony, which had later to be put down, back on its feet.

He had claimed that both Garda Rory O’Grady and Garda Cormac Flanagan were lying when they described having seen him whip the exhausted animal as it lay on the ground still tethered to an overturned sulky.

Gardai had received reports of two young boys riding the sulky down Childers Road at around 3pm on June 22, 2012. Members of the public had reported the trap being ridden dangerously and that the pony was being mistreated, Garda O’Grady told Judge Eugene O’Kelly.

“When we reached the scene, I saw a sulky had overturned and the horse lying on the ground with a male beating it with the reins,” Garda O’Grady said.

Garda O’Grady estimated that the two youths who had been riding the sulky to be around eight years old but Shane Ryan, a cousin of the two boys who had come across the scene and who gardai identified as having beaten the horse, told the court they were aged 12 and 13.

Injuries to the animal included bleeding on both sides of the mouth from an overtight bit while its legs were also bloodied. “The horse was also very lame in the back leg and it took a long time for us to calm him down and bring him to his feet,” Garda O’Grady said.Limerick Animal Welfare arranged for a vet to be called to inspect the animal at Roxboro garda station.

clearly exhausted, and had drank “three or four pails of water immediately on being brought to the station”. The animal later had to be destroyed because of its condition, the court heard.

Solicitor Sara Ryan put it to Garda O’Grady that any injuries had come as a result of the manner in which the pony had been ridden and that her client had not been riding the horse.

But Garda O’Grady said the cruelty charge he had brought against Shane Ryan was based on what he had observed at the roadside, namely the accused beating repeatedly down on the animal in what he considered was “cruel torture”.

“I am familiar with horses all my life and while I don’t own them I have ridden horses at home and abroad. He was beating the horse as it lay on the ground. There is no call for that - not in any culture. Beating a horse on the ground will never bring an animal to its feet,” Garda O’Grady said.

Shane Ryan, from the Clonlong halting site, told Sgt Donal Cronin, cross-examining, that he had “never touched the horse” and was only trying to bring it back on its feet by pulling the bridle. The sergeant put it to the accused that the reason he had been beating the animal was because he knew the gardai were on the way and were likely to seize the animal if it didn’t get up, a charge Mr Ryan denied.

Judge O’Kelly said it was “shocking” that two young boys appeared to have been out on a public road in control of a horse but that issue was not one for the court.

On the animal cruelty charge, Judge O’Kelly said photographs presented in court and the observations of gardai provided ample evidence. Mr Ryan had compounded matters by accusing two members of An Garda Siochana of perjury.

“Shane Ryan is not fit to have anything to do with horses and any application by him for a licence should be in my opinion strenuously resisted,” Judge O’Kelly said.

He convicted Mr Ryan on the cruelty charge and the “only reason” the defendant was not going to prison was his belated acceptance, expressed through his solicitor, of the court’s decision.

Ryan’s suitability for 240 hours community service, in lieu of six months in prison, is to be assessed in relation to the animal cruelty charge.

The accused was also disqualified from driving for four years for failing to provide gardai with a breath sample on June 5, 2012.

And he was handed a three-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, for trespassing at the MS Society at St Nessan’s Road, Dooradoyle, on April 1 last.