Farmer fined £500 after cattle strayed onto land owned by the company once run by Sean Quinn
A Co Fermanagh farmer is to be fined £500 for breaching a prohibition on allowing his cattle to stray onto land owned by the company once run by Sean Quinn, a High Court judge ruled today.
The sanction was imposed on 83-year-old Patrick Treacy after he was found guilty of contempt of an order obtained by Mannok Build Ltd.
He must also pay the rebranded firm’s costs in bringing proceedings against him.
Mr Justice Humphreys accepted the farmer did not intentionally let the cows escape during an ongoing legal dispute over his claim to grazing rights.
“There was a breach on the basis of allowing the cattle to trespass, and those were sins of omission rather than commission on the part of the defendant,” the judge said.
In June last year Mannok secured an order which barred Mr Treacy from permitting his herd from onto the company’s land near quarry facilities at Gortmullan.
Six alleged breaches on dates in September and October were then identified by the firm - formerly known as Quinn Industrial Holdings.
Mannok’s Chief Executive, Liam McCaffrey, told the court on one occasion a road had to be closed and lorries diverted at cost to the firm of £7,000.
Defending the application, the farmer argued that any incidents where his Charolais breed strayed had been isolated, inadvertent and accidental.
He claimed to have discovered a heavy iron gate lying flat which had enabled his cattle to escape.
Earlier this week the judge rejected Mr Treacy’s case, finding him in contempt of court for allowing his cattle to trespass onto the plaintiff’s lands on four occasions.
The farmer had failed to identify a gap in fencing through which his animals strayed.
In a further hearing today, Mr Justice Humphreys accepted each escape was for a short period, with no serious harm caused to Mannok’s operations.
He decided to impose a “modest” £500 fine after acknowledging: “This is an 83-year-old gentleman with significant medical issues.”
With a further order made for the farmer to pay the costs of Mannok’s contempt application, the judge urged both sides to get on with the main action.
“This is a case that is calling for expedition, because I can only see further issues until it is determined whether or not the defendant does have a prescriptive right to graze his cattle on the plaintiff’s lands,” he added.
“It is clear there is an element of animosity between the parties, which is unfortunate, but it is also a feature of this type of litigation generally.”
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