Ralph Riegel

THREE men have been charged in connection with the theft of champion greyhound Clares Rocket in 2016 and a subsequent attempt to blackmail the owner for €100,000.

Tipperary District Court’s Judge Elizabeth MacGrath was told the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has ruled that Paul and Damien Carew as well as Keith Hourigan must face trial by indictment before Tipperary Circuit Court on the various charges.

Clares Rocket – which was being trained by Graham Holland – was stolen from kennels in Golden, Co Tipperary on December 4/5 2016.

The greyhound was owned by the Full House syndicate which is headed by Joe Cahill.

The dog had won the Irish Champion Stakes – and was considered one of the best greyhounds in both Ireland and the UK.

Clares Rocket was a favourite for the English Derby before injury ultimately ended the greyhound’s career.

The theft of the greyhound made headlines across both Ireland and the UK.

However, the dog was successfully located by Gardaí within a few days and reunited with its owner and trainer.

Three men appeared before Tipperary District Court following a lengthy Garda investigation.

Judge MacGrath was told all three men were arrested and charged with a variety of counts on Wednesday morning at Tipperary Garda Station.

Keith Hourigan (42) of Kilcaragh, Ballygunner Waterford is charged with handling stolen property namely the greyhound Clares Rocket at Carrigeen, Mooncoin, Co Kilkenny on December 6 2016.

He made no reply when charged by Gardaí.

Damien Carew (40) of Morrisson’s Road, Waterford was charged with handling stolen property (Clares Rocket) and attempted blackmail, at a location unknown with the State, to the value of €100,000.

The blackmail charge involves an allegation that he demanded money with menaces.

He made no reply when formally charged by Gardaí.

Paul Carew (34) of Morrisson’s Road, Waterford was charged with theft and blackmail to the value of €100,000.

He made no reply when formally charged by Gardaí.

Sergeant Cathal Godfrey said the DPP had directed that all charges be dealt with on indictment before Tipperary Circuit Criminal Court.

There was no Garda objection to bail.

Judge MacGrath remanded all three on bail to appear before the next sitting of Tipperary Circuit Criminal Court on July 24 next.

All three were granted bail on condition they sign on weekly at Waterford Garda Station and have no contact, either direct or indirect, with witnesses in the case or the alleged injured party.

Evidence of arrest, caution and charge was offered to the court by Det Garda Martin Steed and Det Garda Kevin O’Keeffe.

Defence solicitor Colin Morrissey said that applications for free legal aid in respect of all three defendants will be made.

None of the three defendants spoke during the hearing except to confirm their identities and that they had signed the required bail bonds.

They were remanded to Tipperary Circuit Criminal Court for service of the book of evidence in the case.