A MAN who found himself selling a stolen trailer had his court case dismissed at last Tuesday's sitting of Wexford District Court after Judge Gerard Haughton said he was not satisfied that the accused knew the trailer was stolen.
Before the court was Luke O'hanlon from The Stripe, The Rower, charged with handling stolen property on June 3, 2010 at The Stripe.
Inspector Mick Walsh told the court that this case related to a car trailer, valued at €830 that was stolen from the residence of PJ Dunne from Ballymooney, Mullinavat.
Mr. Dunne told the court that a blue, four-wheel steel trailer was taken from outside his house between May 16 and 17 and in a statement to Gardai on June 3 he said that while he was searching through the Done Deal website he noticed the trailer advertised for sale. He followed the address on the advertisement to The Rower, spoke to the defendant and struck a deal to buy the trailer for €800. After striking the deal Mr. Dunne told the defendant that he was going into New Ross to get money, however when he left the premises he rang the Gardai.
Garda Ryan told the court that when Mr. Dunne reported the incident he went to The Stripe and saw the trailer in a hay barn near the defendant's house. He subsequently spoke to the defendant and repeated the injured party's allegation and arrested him.
Mr. O'hanlon told the Garda that he had bought the trailer from Martin Connors for €750 and brought the Garda to the shed where there were other trailers he had obtained from the same source.
Garda Ryan ended up seizing five trailers in total – a horsebox, a dog box, the chassis of a trailer, a builder's trailer and the injured party's trailer. Three of these trailers were from the same source, he said. Referring to the trailers, Defence solicitor Gerry Flynn later said that following inspection it was discovered they were all 'as clean as a whistle' and there was nothing untoward about them.
Mr. O'hanlon was brought to Thomastown Garda Station where during an interview said he didn't think the trailer was stolen, said he bought it in good faith and said he contacted Mr. Connors when he saw the Gardai as he was suspicious.
Defence solicitor Gerry Flynn said his client immediately told Gardai the circumstances in relation to the trailer, told him who he bought it from, the date it was purchased and how much he paid for it. He suggested that if his client's story was an 'invention' the comprehensive and detailed account he was able to provide would be 'elaborate and unnecessary'.
The court also heard that Mr. Connors was arrested and questioned on another day at Thomastown Garda Station and during the course of being questioned gave almost the exact same description of the sale of the trailers.
'I have to put it to you that Mr. Connors was charged with a similar offence and he pleaded guilty. It is a matter of public record,' said Mr. Flynn. 'Do you believe the account of the circumstances that the defendant acquired the trailer is the truth?' Mr. Flynn questioned, to which Garda Ryan replied 'yes'.
Mr. Dunne got his trailer back a number of days later and was not at any financial loss, the court heard.
Judge Gerard Haughton said it was significant that the defendant bought two other trailers from the same source and they had nothing wrong with them.
'I couldn't be satisfied that the defendant knew the trailer was stolen or was reckless as to whether it was,' said the Judge and dismissed the case.