By Conor Neville
A cracking little story from Donegal as a man accused of poaching comes up with a truly ingenious, almost Johnny Cochran-like defence.
Paddy McMenamin caught with a salmon and a net has insisted that he was not poaching – he was merely holding the salmon for a man who he had never met before.
McMenamin was found with a salmon meshed in a net by fisheries protection officers on June 11 2013. However, he insisted that he had not been at the river that day and a nameless man approached him and gave the items to him to hold onto. This rather mysterious individual was dressed in a full wet suit when he approached Mr. McMenamin with the salmon.
Despite the evident danger that this would leave Mr. McMenamin in trouble if caught in possession of the fish he nonetheless decided to hold onto it for the stranger. The man in the wet suit has never been identified.
Donegal Daily report that McMenamin has two convictions for similar offenses back in 1997 and 1998.
The judge Paul Kelly noted that this was act of boundless generosity represented “a very expensive offer of assistance” and bluntly argued that “you should have told the man with the net to take his net elsewhere.” McMenamin was ordered to pay €150 each for possession of the salmon and the net, and a further €350 in costs.
Poaching is clearly one of the primary menaces in the area. In another poaching case in Donegal today, defendant John Crawford offered a rather plainer defence for his actions that Mr. McMenamin. He simply stated that he “was just trying to get a wee fish to eat.”
He was fined the same amount as McMenamin.