Yesterday (06/10/2010) in Waterford Circuit Court (DPP v Tate), in a ground-breaking and historic judgement for seals in Ireland, the Judge upheld the earlier prosecution from the District Court on Appeal, in the case of a fisherman shooting a seal in Dunmore E. Harbour in the middle of the day amid onlookers and tourists, the seal then taking 2 hours to die before an expert marksman could be got to end his suffering.
The fisherman, (formerly licensed by NPWS to shoot seals, who will remain no further named in this report, as he is but the instrument and victim of incitement by others, equally responsible) received Euro1K fine, had his guns confiscated, barred from further licence for 10 years and received a suspended custodial sentence for attitude.
It is tragic one man must carry the blame and burden for so many other wildcat actions, peer pressure and “Omerta “by colleagues and the ignorance, cowardice and cruelty of others, all fuelled by gossip and myth.
The Judge sent out a timely message, to affect such actions against Seals and the State, will not be tolerated, now when the seals are breeding and traditionally illegal cullers go out under cover of Halloween to slaughter pups on the birthing grounds.
The prosecution was taken under Section 23 of the Wildlife Act for an incident on 16/2/2007, when a Bull Grey Seal was shot at close range in the Harbour at Dunmore East and left floundering, spurting blood from a head injury for 2 hours, till Kevin Hewson ,an expert marksman was found to end his suffering.
The original shooter left the scene after being challenged by another fisherman, while everybody else was struck by “Omerta” in what followed and 2 long days in District and Circuit Court, ending in yesterday’s judgement. The tourists had departed and one fisherman, a former fisheries leader from the community, became the only direct witness to the incident. This man, was Brian Crummy, a lifelong fisherman , familiar with seals and fisheries and argument for culls, a man fully aware of the hardship in fishing and poverty in fishing communities, a man acknowledging the goodness of the shooter to his own dogs and refusing to vilify him , but a man incensed by the senseless cruelty of the shot and the cowardice and deception, which followed among normally good neighbours and friends (this report also declines to name, in the belief huge lessons have been learned by us all!).
Gardai, NPWS and Andrew Quinn of Waterford Animal Rescue had all been called to the scene, witnessed the suffering and dying animal and retrieved it’s body for P.M. and forensics. Kevin McCormack of ISS, who had also been notified and followed this case since and Andrew were unable to get any authority competent or available to collect this evidence and so the case was in jeopardy from the outset.
Andrew Quinn provided vital evidence, dismissing attempts to attribute the injury to other causes such as propellor or banging his head off harbour wall.
The case had to rely almost entirely on one man, Brian Crummy, alone and isolated by his own community, and the Judge’s incredible analysis, summation and conclusion on learned legal argument.
He based this on Clear evidence of Brian Crummy; verification of noise by other witnesses; consequence of act; specific nature of injury; post-event behaviour of accused; immediate departure of accused and absence of protest and failure to avail of opportunity to counter.
The message is clear. Grey Seals are a Protected Species under the Wildlife Act. They are now at their most vulnerable on their birthing grounds and should be left undisturbed. The ISS is there to assist all with orphans and casualties.
The ISS and all others in that Waterford Courtroom, witnessing Brian Crummy’s evidence and the credence given it by the Judge, were in the presence of greatness and one man’s stand against injustice, even to a Grey Seal.
The ISS pays tribute to this fisherman and many like him. Dunmore E. and the entire Fishing Community of Ireland can be proud to have him among us and we have all learned something from his courage and honesty, not least some understanding for the fishing community, the accused and the ignorance that led to the senseless cruelty and death of a Grey Seal, that tragic day
Brendan Price DirectorISS//EuroProBiol
Please feel free carry this account on web, to media, interested parties, other ngos et al…or use for own press releases/magazines etc. Historic and Ground-breaking in Ireland
Following is the Account of the ground-breaking test-case in Circuit Court in Waterford in 2010 , which resulted in a prosecution and hoped to end such “wild-cat “practice in Ireland !! Ph. 087 3245423 www.brendanprice.com