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Judge Larkin said: "If Mr Mahon hadn’t paid the compensation, he would definitely be going to jail.”

Banned horse trainer spared jail over sheep kills

Champion Chatter Podcast

A RACEHORSE trainer who was last year banned from the sport for animal welfare abuses has avoided jail following conviction over his dogs killing a neighbour’s sheep.

Stephen Mahon, 53, was spared a prison sentence after paying out €6,500 compensation to a 67-year-old farmer left ‘brokenhearted’ by sheep kills over the years.

At Gort District Court, Judge Mary Larkin made the judgement after the compensation payout to John Moran who has been farming for 52 years.

Judge Larkin said: “If Mr Mahon hadn’t paid the compensation, he would definitely be going to jail.”

Judge Larkin made her comment after imposing cumulative fines of €1,350 on Mr Mahon of The Ranch, Kilcolgan, concerning a sheep kill on June 3 2018 at Caherpeak, Kilcolgan, involving two dogs, a Rottweiler and a Terrier belonging to him.

Judge Larkin imposed six separate fines concerning six separate offences concerning the two dogs. The largest fine of €500 concerned Mr Mahon being an owner of a dog which worried livestock on June 3 2018.

Judge Larkin told the court that “this was a particularly egregious matter”.

Judge Larkin said that Mahon’s dogs killed an innocent person’s sheep and “created havoc on the night in question”. The number of sheep killed on the June 3 2018 incident was not disclosed at the sentencing hearing.

Judge Larkin said that Mahon defended the prosecution taken against him and commented that Mahon’s dogs on the night “were vicious”.

“It was a particularly nasty event,” she said, adding that Mahon had at all times denied owning the dogs. She also imposed an order that Mahon not own any dogs into the future.

Mahon’s barrister told the court that father of two is a former horse trainer and is currently unemployed.

He said: “Mr Mahon had paid over a substantial amount of compensation and apologises.”

Last June in an unrelated matter, Mahon was given the longest ban ever handed out to a racehorse trainer here at four years for breaching animal welfare rules on the back of two inspections of his Co Galway yard in April 2021.

The four-year suspension by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) was reduced last September by six months on appeal.

Farmer in the case before Gort District Court, John Moran said that he was “happy to hear” the order that Mahon can no longer own dogs.

Speaking outside court, Mr Moran said: “This is not about money. It is about cruelty. No animal should have to suffer like that. The cruelty side is not acceptable to anyone.”

Mr Moran has previously told Gort District Court in a separate sheep kill case that he has been left ‘broken hearted” over nine sheep kills over the years that has left 68 sheep dead. He said: “I don’t know of any farmer who has lost 68 sheep like that.”

Outside court, Mr Moran said after one sheep kill, “I had a full trailer of dead sheep heading over to the knackery.”

Mr Moran said that it is desperate to come across a sheep kill. He said: “It is not easy to take. It is very hard to see sheep suffer so much.”

Mr Moran said he has 220 breeding ewes that produce 370 lambs each year.

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