Ash thief caught on camera

A FATHER-OF-FIVE who chopped down ash trees from a Coillte forest and sold them to a Tipperary hurleymaker had his case adjourned at the last sitting of Kilkenny District Court.

A FATHER-OF-FIVE who chopped down ash trees from a Coillte forest and sold them to a Tipperary hurleymaker had his case adjourned at the last sitting of Kilkenny District Court.

This is the second case in the past week where valuable trees have been chopped in order to supply timber for making hurls. The majority of ash used in hurley making is imported.

The father of five was spotted chopping down the trees by surveillance cameras which was installed after timber went missing from the forest.

Edward Ryan, Johestown, Carrick On Suir admitted the offence at Castlemorris Woods in Kilmoganny on May 28. The court also heard that the defendant has two previous convictions for similar type offences.

Inspector Liam Connolly told the court that surveillance cameras were installed which identified the defendant as the culprit who had stolen the ash timber from the Coillte forest. “He was interviewed and admitted the offence,” the inspector said.

Solicitor Michael Lanigan told the court that his client was in receipt of jobseekers allowance and was the father of five children. “He was under financial pressure and he was told he could get 175 euro per tree. He is extremely sorry for what he has done and co-operated fully with the Coillte and the garda investigation. The ash trees were not recovered,” he added.

Judge David Anderson enquired as to whether the defendant had told gardai who the ash was destined for. Mr Lanigan liased with his client in court and told the judge that the ash was for a Tipperary hurleymaker. “The State has been given information as to where the ash ended up and how it was used in the manufacture of hurls,” he said.

The court heard that 300 euro had been paid and that 575 euro was owed. Judge David Anderson adjourned the case to October 18 for the payment of the remainder of the compensation.

Meanwhile at Galway Circuit Court John Keane, from 5 New Houses, Faugheen, Carrick-on-Suir was sentenced to two years in prison for cutting down and stealing ancient ash trees from Libertas Ireland founder Declan Ganley’s lands in Co Galway. He admitted driving around the country for many years looking for mature ash trees which he could chop down and sell to hurley-makers but denied the theft of eight mature ash trees valued at €21,600 taken from ancient, protected woodland owned by Mr Ganley at Moyne Park, Tuam, on 12 June, 2009. The jury took just half-an-hour to convict Keane.