Animal cruelty farmer granted garda motor club event after DSPCA inspection
Race was planned on animal abuser’s farm
The Garda Siochana Motor Club (GSMC) organised an event on lands owned by convicted animal abuser Janet Ball – six months after officers accompanied an DSPCA inspection during which a dead dog was found on her kitchen floor.
The grass surface autocross event was advertised to take place at Reynoldstown in the Naul, Co. Dublin, on Sunday October 3 2021 – with event literature from the GSMC noting the venue was being used ‘by kind permission from Mrs Janet Ball’.
Efforts to contact the GSMC yesterday to confirm the event went ahead were unsuccessful.
On Thursday, 74-year-old Ball of the Reynoldstown Farm, The Naul, in north County Dublin, pleaded guilty to 10 charges under the Animal Health and Welfare Act arising from the animal welfare inspection that had taken place the previous April.
She was given a six-month suspended sentence and disqualified from working with animals after Dublin District Court heard evidence detailing the “appalling” conditions on her farm where she kept about 140 animals.
The charges followed a two-day inspection of her home by the Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) in April 2021.
DSPCA inspector Tony McGovern told the court that concerns grew for an unspecified amount of animals inside the house and on the surrounding grounds of the property.
Accompanied by gardai, he and colleagues entered the house by the back door and immediately noticed a smell of dog faeces and urine.
At that point, they had to go out to put on masks and protective white suits before re-entering the house.
Mr McGovern said he found 10 or 11 dogs in one room without ventilation or natural light.
There were 33 dogs inside the property, many in cages and without access to fresh water.
The DSPCA team left again due to the stench of what the inspector believed was long-term defecation and urination.
They went back in with high-powered torches and found some of the dogs had new-born puppies with no access to water.
Outside, they found 53 rabbits in hutches without water in filth-ridden old bedding.
A dead rabbit’s carcass was decomposing on one of the hutches.
A shed that had not been cleaned contained ducks and geese.
Veterinary surgeon Aideen Murphy told the court there was a “decomposing dog on the floor of the kitchen”.
She recalled a dog on the table and other dogs running around the kitchen. Their coats were matted and had fleas, but they were microchipped, vaccinated and generally in good condition.
The rabbits were also using their soiled hay bedding as food.
Sentencing, Judge Anthony Halpin said: “This is a very distressing case of animal cruelty.
“The facts outlined are appalling and beyond one’s wildest supposition. I cannot comprehend how the accused could have stayed, given the fumes, smells and deleterious material that were on view.
“It was so bad that animal welfare officers had to leave twice to get fresh air.”
But for her guilty plea, he would have had “no hesitation” in imposing a custodial sentence.
“The seriousness of this case cannot be understated, and the harm inflicted upon those animals is simply an outrageous abomination,” he said.
He noted from prosecuting counsel Matthew Holmes that she had no prior convictions, and he took into account mitigation pleas on her behalf from the defence.
She had also cooperated with the DSPCA, which allowed them to rescue and re-home most of the dogs, rabbits, geese, ducks, and guinea pigs on the farm.
Patrick Jackson BL, for Ball, pleaded with the judge to consider her ill health at the time, the breakdown of her marriage and that it happened during the covid crisis while she was also caring for her brother.
In her 33 years of caring for animals, this was her first time before the court, he also submitted.
Judge Halpin added that he inferred that there was no deliberate malice in respect of the offence before the court.
He imposed a six-month suspended sentence on the condition she did not reoffend for the next two years.
He also acceded to a request from Mr Holmes to disqualify her from working with animals for five years.
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