*Charges were dismissed. 

AN EAST Clare farmer has been cleared of trespassing on the lands of his ex-wife’s new boyfriend to commit an offence or to interfere with the man’s cattle trough.

At Gort District Court, Judge Marian O’Leary dismissed the case against Padraig O’Brien (49) of Prospect House, Scariff, Co Clare due to a defective summons.

Mr O’Brien was contesting a charge that on October 25th 2022 at Loughinwadda, Peterswell, Co Galway that he was within the vicinity of the curtilage of the dwelling and farm yard of Sean Burke for the purpose of trespassing and giving rise to a reasonable inference that he was there to commit an offence or to unlawfully interfere with property.

Solicitor for Mr O’Brien, Jim Nash successfully argued that the cattle trough that Mr O’Brien was accused of interfering with was in a field on Mr Burke’s farm and not within the vicinity of the curtilage of the dwelling and farm yard.

Judge O’Leary agreed with Mr Nash and dismissed the charge against Mr O’Brien.

At a Garda interview in November 2022 after Mr Burke had made a formal statement about Mr O’Brien allegedly trespassing on his lands, Mr O’Brien alleged that he “discovered that his wife was having an affair with Sean Burke of Peterswell” in April of that year.

Mr O’Brien told the garda that “the whole ordeal was a nightmare”. He said that his ex-wife “tried to say that I tried to poison horses up in Peterswell”.

In evidence, Garda Dara Melia told the court that Sean Burke is now in a relationship with Mr O’Brien’s ex-partner “and that is what he believes is the reason for Padraig O’Brien’s attitude towards him”.

Asked did he know Mr O’Brien, Mr Burke replied, “Not particularly. I work with his ex-wife”.

From the witness box, he said, “We are now in a relationship and he blames me for the demise of his marriage.”

Mr Burke agreed with Insp Eleanor O’Halloran that “tensions were high” with Mr O’Brien in October 2022.

Mr Burke said that Mr O’Brien “sent me an extremely abusive message” in August 2022. The content of the text message was not read out in court.

Mr Burke said that on October 25th 2022, an eye witness Patrick O’Neill described the person at his water trough “and I immediately knew who it was”.

In evidence, Mr O’Neill said that it looked like Mr O’Brien “was interfering with the tank – it didn’t look right. It didn’t really make sense”.

Mr O’Brien told Gardaí that he did enter the lands to take water from the trough for his overheating car. Mr Burke said, “I returned to the lands and thankfully cattle had not gone anywhere near that trough.”

He said, “I removed cattle from the field and I haven’t let cattle into that field since”.

Mr Burke said that he removed a couple of bottles of water from the trough “in the hope that it would be sampled but because it was animals concerned and not people, the Gardaí don’t provide a facility to test the water”.

He said, “I contacted a couple of labs to see and they needed an indication as to what may be in the water to allow them to search in a certain direction – otherwise it would run to thousands to try to find out what it was”.

Mr Burke said that around six months later he decommissioned the water trough and found an acid battery at the bottom of the trough.

Mr Burke said that he longer uses the field for stock. “I have enough acres,” he said.

Asked by Insp O’Halloran would a battery cause issues for his livestock, Mr Burke said, “I would imagine so, it would contain lead and acid”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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