On this day, March 21st, 1845, two men were brought before the Cork County Criminal Court. Judges Jackson and Ball were on the bench. A jury was sworn in and Timothy Cremin and Patrick Donoghue were charged with “feloniously stealing 20 sheep” the property of James Hugh Smith Barry, the High Sherriff of County Cork and owner of the Fota Estate.
The first witness was Mr George Logan, Steward for Mr Smith Barry. He gave evidence that 160 sheep were grazing in a field on “the Little Island”, when 20 of them were stolen. Mr Logan noticed some of these sheep at a market in Mallow, in the possession of Timothy Cremin, who was selling them. They had Mr Smith Barry’s mark on them. When Mr Logan asked the accused where he had got the sheep, he replied that he had bought them in Waterford. Not believing this, Mr Logan informed the police and Mr Cremin was taken into custody, along with Patrick Donoghue, who was in his company at this time.
The next witness was Mr Philip Burke, a shepherd employed by James Hugh Smith Barry, who said he noticed that 20 sheep were missing from the flock. He too saw the stolen sheep in Mallow, in the possession of a butcher who had just bought 14 of them from Timothy Cremin and was in the process of taking them away. The sheep were branded J.H.S.B. The remaining 6 had already been sold to somebody else. He added that Cremin had been employed by him for a year and a half, until the previous July. Mr Anderson, of the Mallow Constabulary then gave evidence that Timothy Cremin admitted to having stolen the sheep despite being told not to incriminate himself.
Newspaper reports tell us that “A man of the name of David Nelligan came forward and gave him (Cremin) a good character, adding that he heard he dealt in sheep. Mr Bennett, Prosecuting QC responded, “So did we”, to much laughter in the court”. The jury found Cremin guilty but acquitted Donoghue.
On the basis of the character reference, Timothy Cremin was spared transportation, a common sentence for such a crime at this time. Instead he was sent to prison “for one year and a half and to hard labour”. Judge Jackson added that he hoped the sentence would “afford the prisoner time for reflection and that he would come out of jail a better man than he entered”.