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Racing vet facing fitness hearing after pleading guilty over remedies

Tim Brennan (centre) arrives at Kilkenny district court
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A racing vet is facing a fitness to practise hearing after pleading guilty to possessing unauthorised animal remedies, a court has been told.

Tim Brennan, 44, of Mill House, Upper Grange, Gowran, County Kilkenny, pleaded guilty at Kilkenny district court to three counts of possession of unauthorised animal remedies and one count of failing to keep records in respect of an animal remedy. Other charges were struck out at the request of the State.

He was given the benefit of the Probation Act, which means no conviction is recorded against him, after the judge decided the offences were at the lower end of the range of such matters and occurred through “inadvertence” on the part of the defendant.

The offences were detected during an inspection by Department of Agriculture and Turf Club officials at Willie Mullins' Closutton base in February 2015. The unlicensed substances were found in Brennan’s van, which was on the property at the time.

Mullins is not involved in the case and the Turf Club confirmed earlier this year there was “no concern” about him arising from the Brennan prosecution.

Van was searched

The unlicensed substances to which the vet pleaded guilty to having in his possession were catasol, a painkiller used in animals; quinidine sulfate, used to treat atrial fibrillation in horses; and Hemo 15, a supplement that contains cobalt, a naturally occurring trace mineral for which there are established thresholds.

Louis Reardon, a Department of Agriculture inspector, said he attended Mullins' training yard in Bagenalstown on February 9, 2015. He met Brennan while there and, after speaking to him, searched his van and recovered a number of products.

The following April he interviewed Brennan and the vet “admitted possession of the various substances” and they later visited Brennan’s offices and made inquiries about his record-keeping.

John Halley, a vet to the Coolmore breeding and Ballydoyle training operations, was called by Brennan’s legal team and said all the substances involved would be found in the boot of a vet’s car “from time to time”.

No aggravating factors

Halley noted the products in question are licensed in other jurisdictions and suggested it was a "housekeeping matter" in relation to administrative paperwork.

In his submission, Brennan's legal counsel Stephen Lanigan-O’Keeffe SC said the offences are “of an entirely technical nature” and the products were ones he could have legally had, if he had done his paperwork.

Brennan is now facing a fitness to practise inquiry by the Veterinary Council. In concluding, Judge Michael O’Shea said there were no aggravating factors and the offences were “purely regulatory” and “through inadvertence” by Brennan.

He ordered the defendant to pay €1,150 in witness expenses but made no order as to legal costs or in relation to an offer by Brennan to make a €1,000 donation to a charity such as the Injured Jockeys Fund.

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Brennan was given the benefit of the Probation Act, which means no conviction is recorded against him
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