Fine for 'animal lover' who harrassed man he thought was cruel to a horse

An ‘animal lover’ today escaped criminal sanction after admitting harassing a man he suspected of cruelty to a horse.

At Gort District Court, John Mannion (54) of Lakeside Park, Loughrea, Co Galway pleaded guilty to harassing Michael Moran of Crowe Street, Gort over a two-month period from July 12 to September 13, 2017.

In the case, Mr Mannion sent Mr Moran nine letters on dates between July 9 to September 5, 2017 including three letters on the one day of September 5.

Judge Patrick Durcan said: “This is something that shouldn't have happened. The motivation on the part of Mr Mannion was absolutely commendable, but the manner in which he ventilated that motivation was deplorable.”

In evidence, Mr Moran said that the receipt of the letters resulted in him having “a massive heart attack”.

Putting some of the contents of the letters to Mr Moran, Judge Durcan said one letter from Mr Mannion said: “How could you be so cruel to a horse? You scumbag.”

In reply, Mr Moran told Judge Durcan: “Sure, you wouldn’t like to be called that.”

Judge Durcan said that another letter from Mr Mannion told Mr Moran “it was during dreadful weather like this that you let the poor horse starve to death. You horrible anti-Christ.”

In response, Mr Moran told Judge Durcan: “I let no horse die - there are worse letters than that.”

Mr Moran told the court today that he didn’t own the horse in question and was never cruel to a horse.

He said: “I got a massive heart attack out of it. I had to get two stents.”

'A little over the top'

Mr Moran was unsuccessfully prosecuted by the gardaí concerning his treatment of a horse when Judge Durcan previously dismissed the case against Mr Moran as the State failed to prove that the horse in question was owned by Mr Moran.

Garda Mervyn Forde told the court today that there was evidence of alleged cruelty to a horse in the case but the State was unable to make a connection between the horse and Mr Moran.

Judge Durcan said that the garda investigation would have brought its own stresses on Mr Moran.

Judge Durcan told Mr Moran: “I sympathise with you. You have been through a stressful time, but a lot of that stress would have been self-induced as you were properly and correctly investigated by the gardaí and that put you under pressure.”

Mr Moran said that he had no idea who was sending the letters and he made a complaint to the gardaí and gave them the hand-written letters.

Mr Mannion also sent a letter of complaint to Gort Gardaí concerning the horse and gardaí were able to identify Mr Mannion as the person writing the letters after sending them off to a garda hand-writing expert.

Solicitor for Mr Mannion, John Nash told the court that Mr Mannion “is an animal lover and was very upset” and acted “a little over the top” in sending the letters.

Mr Mannion has no previous convictions and Judge Durcan said that he has led an exemplary life.

Judge Durcan said that he didn’t want to convict Mr Mannion but ordered him to pay €500 to the Court Discretionary Fund or Poor Box to be paid to a charity that battles cruelty to animals and struck out the charge.

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