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Co Armagh pigeon fancier seeking £60k in damages after alleged killing of nearly 60 birds by local hunt, court hears


A Co Armagh pigeon fancier is seeking £60,000 in damages for the alleged killing of nearly 60 birds by hounds from a local hunt, the High Court heard today.

Maurice Weir claims the dogs destroyed some of his prized stock after trespassing on his land near Loughgall.

But the Countryside Alliance is defending the action, accusing him of bringing a fabricated and fraudulent case.

Proceedings have been issued over an alleged intrusion into his property by the Kinnego Grange and Canary Hunt Club's animals in February 2009.

Madam Justice Denise McBride was told 59 pigeons were killed in the disputed incident.

Barrister Michael Stitt QC, for Mr Weir, claimed the huntsmen were negligent in failing to control their dogs.

Setting out the level of damages being sought, he said the allegedly killed pigeons had a market value of just over £21,000.

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Another £37,500 in potential earnings from breeding the birds over the next five years was also lost, the plaintiff contends.

With a further £1,300 attributed to the cost of aviary repairs, the total confirmed claim was put at £59,980.

Mr Stitt added that damages for distress and upset may also feature.

But David Ringland QC, for the Alliance, argued that the hunt's dogs were never on Mr Weir's Kinnego Road premises on the day in question.

"We are saying this case is a fraud," he told the judge.

"They had no inter-relationship with the plaintiff's birds. It doesn't get much more fundamental than that, My Lady."

Any evidence to the contrary would amount to a "complete fabrication", the barrister contended.

"The defendant will say that the plaintiff's pigeons were not killed or injured by hounds belonging to this club."

The court heard conflicting figures were supplied on the value and number of birds involved.

Beginning his evidence at the start of a five-day case, Mr Weir described them as Channel Pigeons highly sought for their ability to fly to France.

The action continues.

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