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01 Oct 2022

Carlow man jailed for 'shocking' animal cruelty loses appeal of three year prison sentence

Farm was 'strewn with skeletal remains'

Carlow animal cruelty

Court of Appeal, Dublin

A Carlow man whose farm was “strewn with skeletal remains” has lost an appeal against the severity of his three year prison sentence for “shocking” levels of animal cruelty. 


James Kavanagh (48) pleaded guilty to 30 counts of causing or allowing animal cruelty at his property at Raheenleigh, Myshall, Co Carlow in April 2015. 


Kavanagh was sentenced to three years imprisonment and ordered to pay €35,000 towards the ISPCA’s costs, which totalled €59,149, by Judge James McCourt on February 22 last. Judge McCourt also disqualified Kavanagh from having any involvement with dogs or horses for life. The maximum penalty is five years and a fine of up to €250,000. 

Upholding the sentence today (Wednesday), President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham said 340 dogs and 11 horses had to be removed from Kavanagh’s premises over 11 days. In addition, 20 dogs and four horses had to be euthanised for humane reasons. 

In his judgment, Mr Justice Birmingham said there was one further matter the court wished to comment upon. 


He said the court had been asked to deal with Kavanagh’s case within weeks of the Circuit Court hearing due to the tragic loss of his teenage son in a road traffic accident. 


The pressure to cope that had been placed on Kavanagh was “compounded by the shocking, indeed one can say, disgusting, response there has been on social media to the tragedy that has befallen the Kavanagh family”. 


He said the court did not wish to appear “hard-hearted or indifferent” but the court’s role was confined to reviewing the correctness, or otherwise, of sentences imposed at first instance. 


“The developments post-sentence in this case are very unusual, perhaps even to the point of being unique, and they are of course matters which the Executive is perfectly free to consider.”

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