Pitchfork-wielding farmer tasered and pepper sprayed as ISPCA took away dogs avoids jail

“By Christ it was some f***ing pain”

Thomas Golden

Thomas Golden greets our reporter Alan in Co Mayo© MCN pics

Thomas Golden tells our reporter how he was scared when he saw the ISPCA staff at his home© MCN pics

Back-up was requested

Alan SherrySunday World

A pitchfork-wielding farmer who had to be pepper sprayed and tasered by gardai after he exploded with rage when the ISPCA came to take away his dogs says “by Christ it was some f***ing pain”.

Mayo farmer Thomas Golden (69) told the Sunday World he reacted so angrily on the day because his dogs were like children to him and he treated them well.

“My animals to me were like kids. Could you imagine someone coming along, banging down your door, saying ‘I’m taking your kids away?’ It’s unacceptable. It’s not on.”

Golden said he was extremely relieved to have avoided a prison term after a judge gave him an 18-month suspended sentence on two counts of assault with a third taken into consideration at Castlebar Circuit Court last Friday week.

“I could have ended up in jail. I’ll tell you it was a great relief when it was all over. I couldn’t wait to get home. I couldn’t sleep the night before worrying about it.”

Thomas Golden greets our reporter Alan in Co Mayo© MCN pics

He also revealed he had a heart attack after the incident, which he blamed on the stress of what happened.

The bizarre events involving the pitchfork unfolded at Golden’s home in Ardhoom, Meelick, Swinford, Co Mayo shortly before 10am on February 24 last year.

He said he lived alone at the home and was fearful when he saw a van with three people pull up outside.

“A grey van pulled up outside unmarked and I hadn’t a clue who it was. They kicked my door, not knocked, kicked. It could have been murderers. I live alone inside. There were two lads and a woman.”

He said they didn’t show him a warrant but did say they were there to inspect the dogs.

Sergeant Maureen Flynn testified that the ISPCA requested garda assistance concerning animals on Golden’s property.

On a previous occasion when they visited the property, ISPCA personnel were met with a hostile reception.

Golden said: “There were two men and a woman. They never said who they were. I took it for granted when they were on about dogs, that it was the ISPCA.”

Thomas Golden tells our reporter how he was scared when he saw the ISPCA staff at his home© MCN pics

He said after speaking to one of the men present, he let him into his house.

“I let him in this door and some of the dogs came out into the hall. He came into my house and saw a certain amount of the dogs and he was happy enough with them. With that he walked away.”

Sgt Flynn told the court that the ISPCA wanted to inspect where the dogs were kept in the garage but at this point Golden would only communicate through a window. He refused to allow access, stating there was “nothing wrong” with his dogs. He then closed the window and refused to communicate further.

Golden told the Sunday World: “The next thing I heard the garage door bang and I lost the head. I looked out and I saw the ISPCA buck with one of my dogs standing beside him. He had the door kicked in and that’s when I saw red.”

Sgt Flynn told the court that ISPCA personnel gained entry to the garage and found six dogs inside in a deplorable condition. Drinking water available to the dogs was dirty. One of the dogs escaped.

Sgt Flynn said Golden produced a metal mop handle and then a pitchfork and told Garda Noel Folan that he would put the pitchfork through him.

Golden denied to the Sunday World that he had a mop handle but said he did grab a pitchfork and threaten an ISPCA worker.

“The nearest thing I got was a pitchfork and I pointed it to him. I thought he’d leave the dog and walk away. The guard was saying ‘put it down, put it down’.

Back-up was requested

“When I didn’t put it down, he sprayed me with pepper spray. There was no contact whatsoever with a pitchfork or anything else. At no time did I ever point a fork at the garda. It was only the small man [from the ISPCA]. Don’t let them put down that I put a fork to the guard. I did no such thing.”

He said the pepper spray stung like hell and he rushed back into his house struggling to see.

“I went down into my bathroom and I sprayed water in my eyes. It took a good while for me to get anywhere.”

Gardai on the scene requested back up from the armed support unit as Golden was refusing to leave his house.

“I looked out a while after it and I saw the four armed f***ers coming up,” he said.

“They had the shields on them and the whole lot. I was still standing in the hallway and they reckon I had the fork still with me.

“They came in and [tasered] me in the arm and in a second or so I was gone. It was the first time in my life and by Christ it’s some f***ing pain. Two of them lay on top of me and I could hardly breathe.

“They had their knees on me. They were big f***ers. They walked me out to the police van and in the back of it. They brought me into the barracks in Castlebar and I was in court the next morning.

“Can you imagine what it’s like? All that went on before that and you’re s***less.”

Golden said he suffered a heart attack eight months after the incident which he believes was brought on by stress over the incident and the court case.

He said he loved dogs and had rescued some of the dogs which were seized.

“None of the dogs were mistreated or anything. They were in good health,” he said.

He said he had the dogs in the garage on a temporary basis after he had to move them from another property nearby and admitted he needed to improve the conditions they were in.

“They were only in a temporary thing because I had to get out of the spot I was in. If I got the time everything would have been 100pc” he said.

In court last week Judge Eoin Garavan said Golden’s heart was in the right place in terms of the animals but the authorities were just doing their job.

He said they found certain things that weren’t acceptable and sadly Golden had to be tasered.

He imposed suspended sentences of 18 months on two counts of assault with a third count taken into consideration.

Golden said he has been told by officials that they will allow him to keep two dogs at his home but he said he is unlikely to get any of his old dogs back.

“As far as I can make out, the animals are all rehoused.”

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