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Animal cruelty terms 'too lean'

Four men who were convicted of serious animal cruelty offences last month should have been given the maximum sentence for their crimes, Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill has said.

Jeremiah Kirkwood (43), and his sons Christopher (23) and Wayne (20), of Island Street, along with their co-accused Jamie Morrow (19), of McAllister Court, all Belfast, were given six-month suspended sentences.

They were convicted of keeping animals for fighting in a case described by police as one of the worst they had ever seen.

Ms O'Neill said, in response to a question from DUP MLA George Robinson, that she respected the court's decision but was disappointed maximum penalties were not applied.

 She added that she had written to both the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Declan Morgan, and Justice Minister David Ford.

Belfast Telegraph