Judge Mary Larkin
A FARMER who shot a dog with an unregistered shotgun called neighbours “British bastards” when their Sunday hunt came near his property, a court has heard.
William Casey, who lives at Moig South in Askeaton, fired two shots from outside his home on November 15, 2015, with a pellet shotgun for which he had no licence.
Newcastle West court heard that the 71-year-old farmer was using his brother David Casey’s firearm when the incident occurred.
A number of witnesses were called during the hearing, including some members of the hunting club who heard shots being fired at around 2pm, and saw Mr Casey outside his house with the shotgun in his hand.
There were 19 dogs in the pack, travelling all around the area at the time of the incident, one witness told the court.
There were 15 or 16 huntsmen altogether trailing the beagles, and the group did not enter Mr Casey’s farm at any point, as they “knew they were not welcome”.
While the group was in what is locally known as Costello’s field, two shots in quick succession were heard by witnesses. The court heard that the hounds scattered at the sound, and yelps were heard from an injured hound.
Two witnesses told the court that they saw William, also known as Willie, standing at the edge of his property with the gun.
The injured dog, who suffered pellet wounds to her hindquarters, was “barely able to walk” and was bleeding, one witness said.
A second hound involved in the incident was never found and is presumed dead, the court heard.
Mr Casey was “very aggressive” to those who approached to search for the missing hound.
The court heard that he taunted the witnesses, saying “come in here, you’ll get some of it yourself”.
One witness described how Mr Casey walked down the passage onto the road with a heavy bar in his hand and behaved threateningly, calling them “British bastards”.
Mr Casey denied involvement with any firearm, and admitted that he had been holding a shovel handle to “beat off” a hound who was fighting with his dog.
Mr Casey said that he came on the scene when he heard dogs barking, coming out of his house to find the two dogs fighting.
He later stated that there had been five dogs fighting on his lawn.
He stated that he heard shots that day, but that they may have been fired by someone on a nearby farm.
But Inspector Alan Cullen countered this, saying that the effective range of a shotgun is less than the 200 yards between his and any neighbouring farms.
Mr Casey’s wife denied that any shots were fired, adding that she wouldn’t have heard them from inside the house anyway as she was making dinner.
Another witness told the court that Mr Casey’s wife had emerged from the house crying and saying “it shouldn’t have happened”, but Mrs Casey later denied this, saying that she hadn’t cried in years.
Photographs showing members of the hunt gathering on the road as they waited for gardaí were produced, and the Caseys said that the situation was “intimidating”.
The family openly admitted to being opposed to the hunts, with Mrs Casey asking why they should have to “put up with dogs running outside our window”.
The court heard that on a previous occasion, in the region of 40 English people taking part in the County Limerick Hunt had tried to enter his land.
Confrontations between the accused and those who fox hunt in the surrounding area are common, according to Mr Casey.
Cartridges for the weapon were found in a car on Mr Casey’s property after a warrant was executed. Mr Casey brought the gardaí to his brother’s house, where the gun was kept.
Erin O’Hagan BL argued that Mr Casey had been upfront about the status of the firearm, which was licenced to the defendant’s brother.
Mr Casey faced the court with charges of possession of a firearm without a certificate and possession of ammunition.
Judge Mary Larkin was satisfied that the local witnesses knew of Mr Casey well enough to identify him on the day of the incident.
She was also satisfied that the defendant had access to the firearm and was in possession of the cartridges on the date of the offence.
Judge Larkin said: “We all live in the country, we all have to endure the smell of silage, and horses and dogs. I find his response extraordinary.”
The judge referred the case to the probation services for a report, and it is due to appear again before the court in March.