‘Spooked’ horse smashes through car, court hears

Owner ordered to pay fine or go to jail

The owner of an out of control horse that caused serious damaged to a car in a city centre housing estate last year has been ordered to pay €3,000 in compensation or risk going to jail.

At Galway District Court this week Judge Mary Fahy gave John Sweeney just over six weeks to pay the compensation and witness expenses of €120 to Donal Duffy whose car had a nasty encounter with a “spooked” horse at Glenbaun on April 1, 2008.

The 24-year-old with an address given as 102 Fearann Rí, Doughiska, and 21 Cnoc Na Cille, Ballybane, was summoned for being the owner of the horse and allowing it to cause damage worth €3,930 to the vehicle.

Co-accused Patrick Sweeney (21 ) with an address at 34 Glenbaun, Ballybane, had pleaded guilty at an earlier sitting to being a person in charge or control of the horse who did wilfully or recklessly permit it to cause the damage. The court heard that Patrick Sweeney, who was not in court this week, has been in custody since March 30 for other matters.

Donal Duffy told the court that when he went outside Patrick Sweeney asked to use his phone to call the owner, John Sweeney. He was then taken to a garage to get the car repaired and was asked not to contact gardai. However Mr Duffy had difficulties contacting either man and gardai were called. He said that since the total damage had exceeded the value of the car it was written off by the insurance company.

During questioning by defence solicitor Valerie Corcoran Mr Duffy said that it had been Patrick Sweeney who had admitted that he had been in control of the horse and that the animal had got “spooked” by a van and veered towards his car. The court also heard that Mr Duffy has not been compensated.

John Sweeney said that he did not at any stage permit Patrick Sweeney to ride the horse out on the road. The court heard that he had lent the horse for the purposes of mating with a mare.

“These people kindly agreed not to call gardai, I’ll bet they’re sorry now as they have been dragged through the courts,” said Judge Fahy, who warned the defendant that he will have to pay the compensation or risk going to prison. She adjourned the case until June 24 for the payment of €3,000 compensation plus witness expenses of €120.


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