Kerry farmers given suspended sentences

Two Kerry farmers who engaged in a campaign of obstruction to prevent Department of Agriculture officials from checking on their cattle, which could have threatened the Irish beef industry, have been given suspended jail terms.

The pair appeared before Judge David Waters at Killarney District Court.

Both had pleaded guilty earlier this year to the offences which were committed between April 30th 2014 and February 19th 2015 at various addresses in Co Kerry and Co Cork where they kept cattle.

60-year-old John C Casey, known as Christy Casey, was given a four-month suspended prison sentence for a total of 14 offences while his son, 37-year old John Casey Jnr was given a three-month suspended sentence for seven offences.

Judge David Waters told both defendants, who are both from Crosstown, Killarney that they had engaged in a prolonged and deliberate campaign lasting several months to obstruct Department of Agriculture officials from doing their job.

He said that their actions were designed to frustrate officials from checking their herd registers and bovine passports and from inspecting their cattle in keeping with animal health regulations to ensure the traceability of animals.

Such actions could have had serious repercussions, not just for their fellow farmers but for the wider Irish beef sector, which had built up a reputation for traceability to which was essential its ability to find export markets.

Defence solicitor, Padraig O’Connell pleaded for leniency for both men, saying they had pleaded guilty at an early stage and, in the case of Mr Casey Jnr had no previous convictions while Mr Casey Snr had no relevant convictions.

Mr Casey Senior was ordered to pay €4,000 and his son was ordered to pay €1,000 in costs and expenses.