Animal rights campaigner from County Antrim admits taking chickens from farm near Kells on July 12

Animal rights campaigner from County Antrim admits taking chickens from farm near Kells on July 12

A CLOUGHMILLS woman (27) has pleaded guilty to stealing two chickens during a 'burglary' at a poultry house at Ballymacvea Road near Kells on July 12 last year.

Naomi Finlay, of Ballyveely Road, had the case mentioned at Ballymena Magistrates Court.

She appeared before court via an online link.

Full details of her case have yet to be outlined to the court but it is understood the defendant is an animal rights campaigner.

The matter was adjourned for a pre-sentence report to March 10.

A defence barrister, Court News NI can report, said he wanted a "psychiatric assessment" of the defendant.

A co-accused - Tuesday Goti - was previously dealt with at Ballymena Magistrates Court.

That case heard Goti - an animal rights campaigner - was found with three chickens in her bedroom which she had "liberated" from the poultry farm to give "a much better life".

Goti (34), from Lisburn, the court heard, had vowed to use "exclusively lawful" means in future after pleading guilty to burglary and receiving a suspended jail term.

In Goti's case, a prosecutor said on July 13 the injured party said they were made aware of a video on social media showing a female entering one of their outbuildings where chickens are kept.

Three chickens were taken.

Police viewed a social media post and identified a Mercedes vehicle which was registered to a Ms Finlay

The court heard the incident happened at 9pm in the evening.

A defence lawyer said the chickens were "recovered from Ms Goti's bedroom".

A prosecutor said they were alive and "weren't harmed or injured".

She said she "assumed" they were given back to the farmer.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said he had read a Victim Impact Statement from the chicken farmer and said: "Thankfully there was no disease or illness visited upon the victim becuase of their intrusion. A worrying time no doubt".

The judge was told Goti had given a press interview in which she had said 'I don't regret liberating them, I'm extremely proud of every action I have been involved in'.

The defence lawyer said Goti was an animal rights campaigner and accepted she had spoken to a journalist but "doesn't except quite the spin that was put on it."

The defence barrister said Goti had received and read statements from the farmer.

He added: "The dominant theme in this is this issue of animal rights campaigning

"Our instructions directly from Ms Goti are that she doesn't renounce her animal rights campaigning or views at all and the strength of her feelings regarding the welfare of animals will be undiluted but she intends to carry that forward only through lawful means".

The lawyer said the Kells incident had been a "misjudgment" by Goti.

He said as an animal rights campaigner, Goti was "entitled to hold those views where they are lawfully dealt with and the debate takes place properly. Her views regarding the welfare of animals will be carried forward but exclusively through lawful means".

The court heard Goti is set to face a "similar" matter at Newtownards Magistrates Court.

Judge Broderick said at "first blush" one might say it wasn't a serious offence but the impact report showed it had "far reaching consequences" for the farmer and had placed them in a "precarious position".

The judge added: "Thankfully there was no disease given to the flock and the farmer is able to continue providing a livelihood for them and their family but no doubt the victim would have gone through a period of great anxiety and concern until those matters were clarified".

Goti's defence barrister said Goti is now aware of "bio security" issues.

He said Goti had gone to the farm "with a view to providing the very small number of chickens that she took with a much better life."

Judge Broderick had told Goti: "Hopefully the penny has dropped just how serious this matter is. The theft of three chickens might seem a trivial offence but when you read the Victim Impact Statement it is nothing but trivial.

"In a civil society everyone is entitled to express their views but you are not allowed to break the law in doing so".

At the recent court, the judge gave Goti a four months prison sentence, suspended for three years.

  • Main picture: Naomi Finlay.