Belfast Telegraph

Cork farmer jailed after five ponies were so badly starved they had to be put down

A farmer was jailed for 18 months for horrific cruelty to animals after five ponies were so badly starved on his farm they had to be put down.

Judge James McNulty described as "absolutely appalling" the condition of the ponies discovered by Department of Agriculture inspectors on land owned by Kenneth Coombes (50) last year.

Coombes of The Carrig, Lurriga, Skibbereen, Co Cork has a total of 26 previous convictions dating back over 10 years, 20 for neglect or cruelty to animals.

In 2007, he was jailed for 30 days and warned to never again own, care for or manage farm animals.

The sentence was imposed eight years ago after Coombes was convicted of causing cruelty to pigs and dogs and failing to bury dead animals, including one of allowing a carcass to decay on the roof of a shed on his 36 acre farm.

Yesterday, Judge McNulty warned that, despite his previous directions, Coombes still appeared to have access to and management of animals Coombes was convicted on November 24 last on three charges of animal cruelty.

He had denied all the charges.

The counts related to cruelty to ponies and dogs on various dates between May 29 and July 1 2014.

The charges all relate to lands at Lurriga outside Skibbereen.

Judge McNulty said the treatment of the ponies, in particular, was absolutely appalling.

"These five ponies were effectively starved to death," he said.

The animals were confined to a tiny compound and were so badly starved that, when discovered by Department of Agriculture inspectors, they could not be saved and had to be humanely destroyed.

Sentencing had been adjourned to Skibbereen District Court yesterday so Coombes could be given a psychiatric assessment while remanded in custody.

Judge McNulty pointed out yesterday that a report by Cork Prison psychiatrist Dr Eugene Morgan found that Coombes "has displayed little remorse and sees himself as the victim."

The report also said that it had been impossible, thus far, to complete a full psychiatric assessment of the farmer.

Defence counsel, Ray Hennessy, said his client wanted sentencing dealt with so he could proceed with a full appeal to the Circuit Court.

Judge McNulty noted Coombes' multiple previous convictions for animal cruelty.

He imposed six month prison sentences on all three charges but said that, in light of his repeat behaviour, he was directing that all three sentences be served consecutively, meaning he will serve an 18 month sentence.

The sentence was backdated to November 24.

Judge McNulty made it a condition of any bail application pending the appeal that Coombes receive psychiatric help and that he remain under the supervision of a responsible person.

He set bail in his own bond of €100 and an independent surety of €20,000, 25pc of which must be in cash.

In 2007, Judge McNulty warned that Coombes should never again be allowed to care for animals.

"He's not capable or competent to own any animal, not even a dog,"

Judge McNulty said.

The court had previously been told that Coombes suffered from a dysfunctional background and social isolation.

As a result he had suffered from arrested personal development and a restricted maturation process.

Coombes remained silent throughout the hearing.

Irish Independent

Irish Independent


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