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Car written off by horse 23.02.12

Culdaff woman ordered to give donation to animal charity

A CULDAFF woman has been ordered to give a donation to an animal charity after one of her horses wandered onto a public road, writing off an oncoming car.
Eileen McDaid, St Boden's Terrace, pleaded not guilty at Carndonagh District Court following the incident at Culkeeney, Malin, on October 27, 2010.
The victim, Mary McColgan, Sea View House, Bunn, Culkeeney, told the court she was driving along around 7.15pm when the incident happened.
She was preparing to dip her headlights for an oncoming car when there was “a huge bang” and a crash that suddenly “rocked the car and rocked me”. “I was stunned, it came out of nowhere. I hadn't seen anything on the road," she said. She then saw a horse stomping about on the road and she heard it neighing.
Mrs McColgan flashed her lights to warn oncoming traffic of the danger.
She noticed a gate hanging inwards to a field with another horse inside. She told the court the only thing holding the gate was a piece of thin blue rope tied to the bottom left hinge side. The gate appeared to be "tied to the bushes" with no securing posts. She saw that the horse that struck her car was hurt and bleeding.
A passing motorist stopped, went to his own car and found a piece of rope. He tied the gate so that the second horse wouldn't escape the field. A neighbour arrived on the scene and managed to get the injured horse into an opposite field for safety, Judge Paul Kelly was told. Mrs McColgan said her daughter had paid £5,000Stg for the car but it was written off and fetched only €500 as scrap. Mrs McColgan testified that the accident had left her phobic about driving at night and she now had to be accompanied. She was fearful when dipping her headlights because of "not knowing what will be there".
Garda Rhona Bohan told the court the gate was "literally propped against a hedge" with no pillars and was "totally inadequately secured". She said the gate was only "bridging a gap" in the hedge.
Eileen McDaid testified that she had earlier checked her two stud horses at 6.15pm and the gate was safely secured. Photos taken by her sister a year after the accident showed the gate secured to pillars. The defendant insisted that this was how the gate was always secured and it came as a "great shock" to her that the horse had escaped. Her husband testified that he had accompanied her to the field an hour before the accident and had found everything in order.
But Judge Kelly said he was not satisfied with either Eileen McDaid's evidence or her husband's. There was a "fundamental conflict" in the evidence. He said Garda Bohan's evidence had been "clear and stood up to cross examination".
Defence solicitor Ray Lannon pleaded for leniency on behalf of his client, who had no previous convictions. It was accepted by the court that the mother of three in her late 40s, was a committed farmer who "loved her horses". Mr Lannon said farming was the "backbone of Inishowen" and that, despite the best efforts of farmers, animals broke out from time to time. He said the incident had had a profound effect on his client and he appealed to the judge not to impose a conviction. Judge Kelly agreed to apply the Probation Act and leave the defendant conviction-free provided she donate €150 by March 20 to the local branch of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPSA). The court heard that Mrs McColgan had received no compensation for the accident. Judge Kelly said she had recourse to a civil action.
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