#TheList Robert James Mcaleenan, born c. 1959, and son Conor Mcaleenan, born c. 1986, of 210 Lisnevenagh Road, Antrim BT41 2JT – jailed for a catalogue of animal cruelty offences against dozens of horses, ponies and donkeys
Travellers Robert and Conor Mcaleenan were jailed after police discovered a ‘scene of horror’ at their farm, with decomposing dead horses among those still alive.
The case was triggered by a tip-off from a member of the public. The scene that confronted vets and PSNI officers on November 22, 2011, was one of horror.
They were faced with an overpowering stench of dead animals which had been dumped in a heap on the farm, with numerous other standing around in filth, starving and left to fend for themselves.
One vet said: “The scale of what I saw was unbelievably large. The father and son had fundamentally failed to protect the animals, failed to address the most basic health and husbandry requirements.
“Some of the animals were in such a pitiful state of suffering that they had to be euthanised on humane grounds.”
Judge Desmond Marrinan told the Mcaleenans: “This is one of the worst cases of animal cruelty that I have encountered and you should be thoroughly ashamed of your callous behaviour.”
The judge said he was unimpressed by the men’s defence and found no substance in claims the pair had not set out to deliberately cause suffering or distress to the animals.
He told the court the case photographs were “horrific… almost unbelievable”, and said: “The evidence bore testimony to the fact they treated these poor animals in a pitiless manner without the slightest regard for their welfare. In my view they are unfit to be carers for any animal.”
Conor Mcaleenan, who had owned the animals, was jailed for 14 months.
Robert James Mcaleenan, who owns the farm between Antrim and Ballymena, was given nine months.
The pair were banned from keeping animals for 25 years.
In January 2018 the pair reappeared in court accused of breaching their ban on keeping animals. The outcome of their latest court case is unknown, however.