A man who shot his neighbour’s dog, yet didn’t kill it outright, has been ordered to get a psychiatric evaluation before a judge would consider returning his now confiscated weapons.
Seamus Molloy (51 ), of Newtown, Horseleap, Co Westmeath was in the District Court in Athlone this week (February 12 ) to apply for the return of his double-barrelled shotgun and 0.22 calibre rifle taken by gardaí following the incident on June 8, 2012.
Mr Molloy accepted that he shot the dog - “a half-sheepdog” - that belonged to his neighbour Larry Hanaphy because the dog was barking at all hours, worrying his sheep, and going after his chickens.
He also said the dog was disturbing his son who was in the middle of doing the Leaving Cert at the time.
He told the court he shot the dog with a shotgun from a distance of “three or four yards” in his own back yard, and that the dog limped off and was found dead on the side of the main road.
Mr Mark Cooney, acting for the appellant, claimed his client was given no reason for the confiscation, and was only quoted a line from the Act suggesting Molloy was a “danger to public safety”.
However, Mr Steven Boggs BL for the State told the court that the garda who made the decision - Superintendent John Moloney from Tullamore - had twice invited the appellant in writing to come in and discuss the situation: “but he wasn’t taken up”.
“It’s unusual that a person invited in by a Garda Superintendent doesn’t take it up,” said Judge Seamus Hughes.
Mr Molloy explained he had phoned Moate Garda Station on this, and claimed he was not aware that it came under the remit of Clara gardaí.
He also said he had reported the dog nuisance to Moate station a number of times but claimed nothing had been done about it.
The unemployed father of five said he used his guns to shoot pheasants and rabbits on his father’s farm and that: “There were never any issues with the renewal of the licence before”.
He admitted he did not report the issue to the county’s dog warden, nor did he instruct his solicitor to take a civil proceeding against Mr Hanaphy.
“I want to know what the Gardaí did about this. I want to know why this man shouldn’t hold a [gun] licence,” said the judge.
Supt Moloney took the stand to explain his decision, and told the judge how gardaí in Clara had been approached prior to this incident by a close relative of Mr Molloys “to say he had concerns about Mr Molloy’s mental health”.
“He said Mr Molloy was attending his GP, but not to do anything, and I thought this reasonable. Then I heard about the dog, and I thought it prudent to revoke the licence,” said Supt Moloney.
“Have you concerns about his mental state?” asked the judge.
“I’d like to see his medical records,” said Supt Moloney.
“If you got a psychiatric report that stated there were no issues with his mental stability what would you do?” asked the judge.
“I would have to consider it,’ conceded the superintendent.
“I know many the man who would have the ability and propensity to go out and shoot a dog,” noted Judge Hughes as he adjourned a judgement until April 16 for a psychiatric report.