A judge has slammed the actions of a Glarryford man after what he described as the worst case of animal mistreatment he had encountered.
However, District Judge Des Perry imposed a suspended three month prison sentence on Ryan Murphy after he decided that the defendant had “completely out of his depth” rather than wilfully cruel towards cattle on his uncle’s farm.
Murphy (29), of Tullyreagh Road, had previously been convicted in his absence on charges including failing to ensure the welfare of cattle, causing unnecessary suffering to animals and breaches of various Northern Ireland and European regulations regarding animal welfare and food hygiene.
At that time, District Judge Perry, having viewed photos of the condition of animals, said Murphy had left the farm “looking like a battlefield, with dead animals lying all over the place”.
Last week’s sitting of Ballymena Magistrates Court was told that the offences came to light after inspectors from Department of Agriculture, Rural Development (DARD) had made a number of visits to the farm.
On one occasion they found 15 young and fully grown animal carcasses lying among living cattle.
The Department had to arrange for the disposal of the dead animals, at a cost of £3,000, while other advice and directions given to Murphy by DARD officials were ignored, the court heard.
A DARD vet told the court that Murphy had failed to carry out even basic requirements, adding: “There was no reaction at all when we were serving notices or explaining things.
“There was just no knowledge of the seriousness of any illness, to get a vet in,” she added.
The judge acknowledged that the animals had belonged to Murphy’s uncle, who had taken seriously ill, and that the defendant had “stepped in to take over”.
However, the judge added: “This was a young man who was completely out of his depth - he hadn’t a clue.
“I have seen some bad cases of animal neglect but this surpasses anything.”
He told Murphy: “I don’t believe you would be cruel to animals but these animals did suffer.”
Suspending the operation of the prison sentence for two years, the judge added: “You are not going to be back farming, ever.”
Murphy was also ordered to pay £46 in costs.