Martin Gerald Foley admitted his guilt on Tuesday at Ennis Circuit Court when he pleaded guilty to disposing of waste in a manner that is likely to cause environmental pollution on dates unknown between April 20th, 2013, and March 13th, 2014, contrary to Section 32 (1) of the Waste Management Act.
At a previous hearing, counsel for Mr Foley, Pat Whyms BL, said his client would be contesting the charge and that the trial would take over one week.
A jury was ready to be impaneled in the case yesterday, however, when he was arraigned and the single charge read out, Mr Foley of Lislanihan, Kilkee, replied: “Guilty judge.”
His admission followed a lengthy Garda investigation into the discovery of the 12 bloated and rotting animal remains at the base of the cliffs at Baltard, Doonbeg in April 2014. In September 2015, a two-volume Book of Evidence, the case against Mr Foley, was served on him.
The Garda investigation included DNA tests that were carried out on the dead animals to determine to whom they belonged and the work of an oceanographer to determine if the carcasses were washed ashore.
The carcasses had to be cremated at the scene as it was not possible to remove them. Gardaí say they believe the animals were dead before they were pushed off the cliff.
In response to the discovery, four separate agencies launched investigations that included the gardaí, the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Department of Agriculture and Clare County Council.
The animal bodies were found by a walker who reported the discovery to Kilrush gardaí, who attended soon after.
In the case, Mr Foley was represented by his brother, Galway-based solicitor Oliver Foley, and Mr Whyms. In 2016 in court, Mr Whyms made a successful application for legal aid saying: “Mr Foley doesn’t have any regular income as such.”
He added: “He does have a small holding on which he he keeps a few horses for himself and there are also some cattle that he is minding for a man who owns the cattle.
“His only income in the last year came from the sale of a few horses and if you have average that over the week, it comes at €200 a week.”
Mr Whyms also stated: “He is not on social welfare and doesn’t have a job. This waste legislation that is in the case is very technical and there is no way that a lay person could conduct a defence on his own and he doesn’t have any money.”
In court yesterday, Mr Whyms said that there would have been a lot of technical evidence in the trial and, in response to his application, Judge Keys extended the legal aid cert for Mr Foley to cover the costs of an engineer’s report that had been carried out.
Judge Gerald Keys remanded Mr Foley on bail to April 23rd for sentence.