Feud which had been going on 'for seven or eight years' led to farm shooting, court hears

A "feud" between two farmers over “a small dirt track” linking their farms, led to one man shooting the other and killing his dog, a court has heard today, writes David Raleigh.

Ted O’Donoghue, (aged 72), of Killmoreen, Kildimo, Co Limerick, appeared before a special sitting of Limerick District Court, charged with assault causing harm to John Hayes, (aged 65), at farmlands at Ballycasey, Kildimo, on Friday, June 16.

Despite strenuous garda objections to bail, Judge Marie Keane, remanded Mr O’Donoghue in custody with consent to bail on a number of “very strict conditions”.

During the bail hearing, Garda Jason Mitchell, Newcastle West garda station, said the accused “allegedly fired a shot” from a single barrel shotgun at Mr Hayes, “wounding him in the right shoulder”.

He told judge Keane the “serious incident” was linked to a “dispute over a ‘right of way’”.

Garda Mitchell alleged gardaí had been called to lands at Ballycasey on “five occasions since June 2014”, and that the shooting last Friday, was the “latest in an ongoing long running feud over a ‘right of way’”.

Ted O'Donoghue. Pic: Press 22

“Further more serious charges are anticipated,” Gda Mitchell added.

The court heard the ‘right of way’ is on Mr O’Donoghue’s land, but three other landowners, inlauding the injured party have to access it to get to their lands.

“There is no other access,” Gda Mitchell said.

Objecting to bail under Section 2 of the Bail Act, and under O’Callaghan Rules, gardaí said they feared Mr O’Donoghue would interfere with witnesses.

Inspector Alan Cullen, Newcastle West garda station, said the matter “should never” have come before a criminal court, and that "it's an unfortunate scenario".

He alleged the dispute should have been “resolved" but has now "escalated".

William O’Donoghue, the accused’s brother, alleged the dispute had been ongoing “for seven or eight years”.

He told the court tensions would “flare up” from time to time.

William O’Donoghue gave an undertaking in court, to act as surety for his brother, and to monitor his movements whilst on bail, including chaperoning him to Mass services outside the locality.

He also agreed to manage the day-to-day running of the family farm at Ballycasey, where his brother allegedly shot and injured father-of-four John Hayes, and fatally wounded Mr Hayes’s dog Lassie.

Gardaí told the court a conviction, on indictment, for Section 3 assault carried a maximum five-year prison sentence.

“The injured party has stated (to gardaí) that the accused fired a shot at him, injuring him, and killing his dog,” Gda Mitchell alleged.

The court heard gardaí had recovered a gun believed to have been used in last Friday's shooting.

Garda Mitchell said he arrested Mr O’Donoghue, at 1.10pm, Friday, June 16, at Barnakyle, Patrickswell. He said the accused “made no reply” when charged at 10.15pm on Friday night.

John Hayes, 65, who was shot in the shoulder.

Remanding Mr O’Donoghue on bail, judge Keane ordered that €3,000 of an independent cash surety of €5,000 be lodged.

She warned Mr O’Donoghue: “If you breach any of these bail conditions you will be arrested and incarcerated.”

Granting bail, the judge noted it was a “very busy time of the year” for farmers cutting silage.

The accused agreed to strict bail conditions, including that he stay away from his farmland at Ballycasey.

He also agreed to hand over management of the farm to his brother William; to sign on daily at Newcastle West garda station; obey a (10pm-8am curfew); be available to gardaí at all times,

He also agreed not to contact Mr Hayes nor any other witnesses nor adjoining landowners at Ballycasey.

“If you see your neighbours, you blank them; you don't even look at them,” the judge told the accused.

Judge Keane described the matter as “very serious”.

She remanded Mr O’Donoghue to appear before Limerick District Court on June 21.

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