herald

Friday 19 April 2019

Grieving father jailed for animal cruelty to appeal sentence

James Kavanagh
James Kavanagh

A man jailed for one of the worst cases of animal cruelty in the history of the State has moved to appeal against his three-year prison sentence.

James Kavanagh, whose 16-year-old son Eamon was killed in a car crash shortly after he went into custody, pleaded guilty to 30 counts of causing or allowing animal cruelty at his property at Raheenleigh, My-shall, Co Carlow, in April 2015.

Carlow Circuit Court heard that following the death of their son, his wife - who was also convicted of animal cruelty offences - "had to be sedated" and admitted to hospital.

Kavanagh's barrister, Colman Cody, said his client was on suicide watch in the Midlands Prison and had to be moved from his original cell to the sex offenders' wing "for his own safety".

The court heard that the charges related to 63 animals.

Gardai and animal welfare officers found a number of dead dogs and horses, as well as dogs feeding on the carcasses of horses, when they inspected Kavanagh's dog breeding premises at Myshall.

The court heard 340 dogs and 11 horses were removed from Kavanagh's property after the inspection. Four horses and 20 dogs had to be euthanised due to their condition.

Kavanagh was sentenced to three years' imprisonment and ordered to pay €35,000 towards costs incurred by the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) by Judge James McCourt last February 22.

His wife, Jennifer Kavanagh, was given a wholly suspended 12 months' sentence on the same occasion after she admitted 30 counts of allowing animal cruelty.

Opening an appeal against sentence yesterday, Mr Cody accepted that it was a serious case of neglect, but there were no "overt acts of physical cruelty".

Hate

Eamon Kavanagh
Eamon Kavanagh

Mr Cody said Kavanagh had a dog breeders' lic-ence, but claimed he was not breeding dogs.

He claimed Kavanagh's premises had been "mischaracterised" by the media as a puppy farm.

He said Kavanagh and his family had been subjected to the "most vitriolic campaign of hate and abuse online".

He said people were threatening to burn Kavanagh's house down and do violence to his family.

"Even before he's brought to court, he's already suffered," Mr Cody said.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said the claim that Kavanagh was not breeding dogs seemed "incompatible" with an objective view of footage from his premises, filmed by the ISPCA, which was played in court.

It was accepted that 114 puppies were found on his premises, but Kavanagh claimed he "wasn't aware some of the dogs were pregnant".

President of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice George Birmingham, said the issue was being presented as if changes in the legislation, concerning puppy passports, had caused problems for Kavanagh, "but in truth it seems the changes in the legislation created a bonanza for him".

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