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Dog fighting convictions quashed

TWO MEN convicted of cruelty to animals at a dogfight in County Kildare have had their sentences quashed on a point of legal technicality by the Irish Court of Criminal Appeal in the first case of its kind in the history of the state.

Troy Jordan 35, a car-dealer and horse-breeder of Allenwood South, Co Kildare, and David Deegan 32, a car sales business owner of Tallaght, Dublin, were convicted at Naas Circuit Court on July 13 last year of cruelly ill-treating two animals at a dog fight on October 31, 2003, at Brockagh, Robertstown, Naas, Co Kildare.

Jordan was jailed for 18 months for the offence and Deegan was given an 18-month suspended prison sentence by Judge Pat McCartan. The Court of Criminal Appeal freed Jordan on bail immediately after the sentence.

The trial was told that a team of gardaí and inspectors from the ISPCA had raided a Kildare farm and found two dogs in a bloody clinch in a corrugated steel pen.

The two dogs, identified as Pit Bull Terriers, had lacerations to the face, ear, head, neck and forelimbs. The men were convicted under the Protection of Animals Acts of 1911 and 1965.

The men's lawyers had submitted that the trial judge erred in refusing an application to direct the jury to acquit.

Mr Justice Hugh Geoghegan, presiding at the three-judge court, said that merely being present at the dogfight was not enough to convict a person and there must be some evidence either of common design or aiding and abetting in the offence.

He said the court had to consider whether the trial judge was right in ruling that there was enough evidence to support implied encouragement to allow the case to go to the jury. He added that for the jury to have held that the evidence relating to each of the two men amounted to proof of the necessary implied encouragement, the jury could only have been engaging in speculation.

‘All that was proved was presence. There was no evidence of gambling or fleeing from arrest. The court is of the view that the jury could not beyond reasonable doubt have come to a conclusion that there was encouragement’, said Judge Geoghegan.

The judge said that the application for a direction to enter verdicts of not guilty ought to have been acceded to.