An international showjumper accused of deceiving a family who agreed to buy two ponies from him said the deal was "dead in the water" when a neighbour who owned one of the animals decided not to sell.

Michael Kearins told a court that he discovered on the evening of 9 October 2012 that a skewbald pony known both as Buddy and Soldier was no longer available when the owner, Felix Burke, said he longer wanted to sell.

Mr Kearins, an international showjumper with an address at Knockbeg, Collooney, Co Sligo, who is currently living in the US, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of deception between 24 August 2012 and 19 October 2012.

Sligo Circuit Court has heard that Donegal-born business man Sean Ewing had negotiated a deal with Mr Kearins for two ponies, the skewbald Buddy and a grey mare known both as Blue Rose and Teddy, both to be delivered to the family home in Majorca.

Mr Ewing and his wife Terri have told the court of their devastation when instead of Buddy another skewbald called Spot was delivered.

Mr Kearins told a jury on the third day of the trial that he had a telephone conversation with Mrs Ewing on 10 October 2012 about the fact that Buddy was no longer for sale, during which they agreed that he would source another pony which would be suitable for the Ewings children.

Mrs Ewing denies this conversation took place.

During-cross examination prosecution counsel Dara Foynes put a number of emails to the defendant, including one dated 18 October, nine days after Mr Burke said Buddy was not for sale, in which Mr Ewing outlined the terms of the agreement for the purchase of the two ponies Buddy and Teddy.

Ms Foynes pointed out that Mr Kearins had replied "I agree".

In his evidence, Mr Kearins said he was now based in Wellington, Florida. He said he was an international showjumper and trainer who competed in five star events. "Horses are my life," he told defence counsel Patrick O'Sullivan.

He said that he sold horses in the €50,000 to €400,000 price bracket. He sold many of them as an agent acting for the owners.

He had gone to live in Holland in October 2012 after being offered work from a horse owner who had won the gold medal in the Rio Olympics.

The defendant said he owned the grey mare, Blue Rose (also known as Teddy), which he had offered for sale on Done Deal in 2012 for €15,000.

This was one of the ponies viewed by Mr and Mrs Ewing along with Soldier (Buddy), which was owned by a neighbour.

The Ewings were in Ireland looking for two ponies for their two daughters.

The accused said he talked to Felix Burke about selling Buddy. Mr Burke wanted €4,000 for this pony and said he was free to get some commission. The accused said he asked for €8,000 as a starting off point.

Mr Kearins said that at one stage he had an agreement with Mr Ewing, who was to buy the two ponies for €20,000 - this sum to include the cost of transporting the animals.

The figures broke down as €10,000 for Blue Rose (Teddy) €6,500 for his neighbour's horse Buddy (Soldier) and €3,500 for transportation.

The court has heard that the Ewings told Mr Kearins sometime after this negotiation that they were considering moving back to Ireland and were no longer interested, but would proceed on the basis that he pay the costs of shipping the ponies out and back.

Earlier, the Detective Garda who investigated the case said it took him four and a half years to make contact with the accused.

Det Garda Joseph Scanlon told the court that on 1 November 2012 he had received a complaint from Mr and Mrs Ewing, two days after the ponies Teddy and Spot were delivered to them.

He said he had got a warrant to access the defendant's bank account in June 2015 and saw that €10,000 had been received from Mr Ewing on 5 October 2012.

The detective told the jury that he had gone to the home of Mr Kearins parents after receiving the complaint and had got a foreign telephone number for the accused but could never get a reply.

Asked why it had taken him until 2 June 2017 to arrest Mr Kearins under the Theft and Fraud Act, Det Scanlon said "It took me from that length to get him".

He told the court that he made contact with Mr Kearins when he returned home for his grandfather's funeral .

The court head that during his interview with gardaí, the 36-year-old said had been home only three times since October 2012, once for a funeral and another time for Christmas.

Farmer Felix Burke told the court that in 2012 he was the owner of the pony at the centre of the case, a skewbald which he called Soldier.

He said his four children, who were aged from ten up in 2012 were very interested in equestrian sports and he had about 20 ponies around this time.

In August 2012 he had been approached by the defendant, who told him he had a potential client from Sweden who was looking for a good pony.

About ten days later Mr Kearins came back and said he had another potential client from Spain looking for a pony.

When Mr Burke inquired about the Swedish customer Mr Kearins remarked that they were "too slow to come up with the money".

Mr Burke said he did not know that the people from Spain were in fact Irish, he never met the Ewings and had no interaction with them. Mr Kearins told him that the pony was sold.

"It was a done deal as far as I was concerned," Mr Burke told the court.

He said he later changed his mind about selling as it was dragging on for too long and the pony was performing very well at events.

Mr Burke said that he had told Mr Kearins in the second week of October 2012 that the pony was no longer for sale.

He told Ms Foynes that he did not know that Mr Ewing had by then paid €10,000 into Mr Kearins' account as part of the deal for two ponies.

Mr Kearins agreed with Ms Foynes that on 10 October 2012 he had loaded one pony, the grey mare Teddy, for transportation to the Ewings family in Majorca.

Pressing him on why he had not talked to Mr Ewing before doing this she suggested "you had €10,000 in our account and you were afraid to lose the deal".

The court has heard that the Ewings told the haulage company to turn back half an hour after it left Sligo.