A Fermanagh farmer has been found guilty of breaching an order obtained by Mannok Build Ltd, after he allowed his cows to trespass onto land owned by the company.
The court heard that last June, Patrick Treacy (83), had been barred from permitting his herd from straying onto the firm’s land near quarry facilities at Gortmullan. The order was obtained as part of an ongoing legal dispute over Treacy’s claim to have grazing rights.
Six separate alleged breaches on dates in September and October were identified by Mannok, who issued contempt proceedings, seeking sanctions against the farmer.
Mannok chief executive Liam McCaffrey told the court that on one occasion a road had to be closed and lorries diverted at a cost to the firm of €7,000 . In court, Mr McCaffrey spoke of the responsibility that he carries in protecting the health and safety of the business and staff.
Photographs and dashboard camera footage were also shown in court of the of the defendant’s cattle straying beyond their fields.
When questioned about why those who spotted the cattle were not named, he said the current management team had been subjected to six years of intimidation.
Defending the contempt application, Treacy argued any episodes of trespassing were isolated, inadvertent and accidental. In evidence he claimed to have discovered a heavy iron gate lying flat which had enabled his cattle to escape.
Rejecting Mr Treacy’s case, the judge pointed out that liability did not depend on establishing any intention to flout the order.
Mr Justice Humphreys said the evidence established cattle trespassed onto the plaintiff’s lands on four separate occasions over a period of three weeks.
“I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant has breached the terms of the court order of June 28, 2021, and accordingly is guilty of contempt of court,” he said.
A separate hearing will be held to decide the appropriate sanction.
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