Court in Ballymena hears it has so far cost a Council £5,000 to look after one dog and 30 fish whilst their owner has been in jail

Court in Ballymena hears it has so far cost a Council £5,000 to look after one dog and 30 fish whilst their owner has been in jail

A COURT heard it has so far cost over £5,000 to look after a Larne woman's dog and 30 fish whilst she is on remand in custody for allegedly waving an imitation gun at a neighbour.

Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena, was told, on Tuesday, it is costing £10 a day to look after the dog and around £40 a day for the fish at  £1.50 a day per fish.

Denise Martin (60), of Drummond Court, is accused of possessing a 'firearm or imitation'.

She is also accused of cultivating cannabis at Drummond Court.

The accused is further alleged to have assaulted two people and allegedly made a threat to damage windows at an address at Drummond Court.

The charges relate to October 23, 2021.

The defendant has been in custody since October after being unable to perfect bail.

She appeared at court via a video link from prison.

A defence lawyer said the case allegedly involved "waving an imitation firearm at a neighbour in a street and then there is a small amount of cannabis growing in her house".

That case was adjourned to February 15.

Regarding the defendant's dog and 30 fish the defence lawyer said a Council had made an application for a "Disposal Order".

He said the defendant "does not consent" to the Order.

District Judge Nigel Broderick asked who was looking after the dog and 30 fish while the defendant is in custody and the defence lawyer said: "I believe it is the Council".

A legal representative for a local Council told the court to date it had cost around £5,000 to look after the animals - £10 for the dog and £40 for the fish per day.

The judge asked: "What sort of fish are we talking about? but the Council lawyer said she was not sure.

Judge Broderick said: "I hope it is not goldfish".

The Council lawyer said the fish were in a "filtered tank" and added: "I don't think they're goldfish".

The judge added: "It costs £40 a day to look after 30 fish in a tank of water. I find that very hard to understand".

The lawyer said it was "£1.50 per day per fish".

The judge said it was a "struggle" for him to understand the cost, adding: "The dog yes but the fish, really? It seems exorbitant to me but that is just my preliminary view".

The judge wanted to know on what basis the Council was making the application and asked if there had been a conviction regarding the animals.

The Council lawyer said: "No, there hasn't been a conviction or a decision on prosecution in the matter yet. The Council were contacted by police on the date of Ms Martin's arrest and advised that animals were in the property.

"Once they had ensured that the property was not being accessed by anyone else and the animals not being looked after the animals were therefore seized.

"Given that Ms Martin has remained in custody since October we haven't had any approach from anyone willing to assist in the care of the animals so the Council has had to remain their custodian".

The Court heard the dispute about the application will have to be fixed for a hearing.

The Council lawyer said a Council officer and a vet would give evidence.

That case was adjourned to March 7.

  • Main picture: Illustrative general picture of fish.