Three men were convicted of poaching seven salmon from the Owenmore River near Bangor Erris despite their denials at last week’s sitting of Belmullet District Court.
Gerry Skey of Geesala, Ballina, Cyril Marley (46) of Glenhest, Newport, and Peter Howard(49) of Shraigh, Belmullet were convicted of the possession of an illegal net for poaching. All three had denied the charge.
The court heard from Inland Fisheries officials, who said they witnessed three men haul a net along the Owenmore River in the early hours of August 9, 2011. The men then left the net and salmon in a ditch along the N59 before walking towards Bangor Erris, where they were followed and apprehended at Briska, outside Bangor.
Assistant Inspector Gerry Stadler explained that they followed the men from the other side of the road and waited for the right moment to confront them. When the men went onto the road at Briska, near Bangor, they turned on their dragon lamp and approached the men. He said he was 100 per cent sure they were the same men they saw in the river.
The bag in the drain was picked up by Officer Gerry Sweeney and it contained seven freshly caught salmon, a fully mounted net and a life jacket.
Mr Michael Bohan, defence solicitor said it was nearly impossible for the men to walk inside the fence because of the terrain and that his clients were not responsible for poaching. He said if there was a doubt his clients should get the benefit of it.
However, Judge Denis McLoughlin said if he was to give them the benefit of the doubt it would be to indicate that the inspectors came into court and told 'a tissue of lies'. He said he considered their evidence very carefully and convicted the three men.
None of the men had previous convictions, and Judge McLoughlin adjourned sentencing until May 9 for the preparation of probation reports. He also ordered them to pay €400 contribution costs.