Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 19 April 2018

How possession of a stolen tractor proved a Deere lesson for one man

Stock picture
Stock picture

Richard McCullen

A stolen tractor has cost a Co Meath man over €45,000 - a circuit court has heard.

The valuable machine found when gardai searched premises near Kells two and a half years ago had been stolen in Scotland six months earlier Trim Circuit Court heard.

Forty nine year old Paul Casserly, Moyaugher, Cortown, Kells, pleaded guilty to possession of a stolen John Deere tractor on June 28, 2014 at Milltown Cortown Kells or being reckless as to whether it was stolen.

Det. Gda. Eugene O'Sullivan from the Stolen Vehicle Unit at the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation told prosecuting counsel Carl Hanahoe BL that gardai acting on a tip off searched the defendant's premises at Cortown and found a John Deere 6930 four wheel drive tractor.

The 155 horse power machine was registered in the name of a man with an address in Balbriggan but when gardai checked no one of that name lived there and the registration was bogus.

They also discovered that the chassis number on the tractor was false.

A diagnostic examination revealed a false number had been stamped over the original number.

The false number matched an identical model which had been sold by a UK dealership to a farmer in Norway and the original chassis number matched that of a tractor reported stolen on November 30, 2013 from an agricultural contractor in Scotland - Alastair John Lauder based in Kelso on the Scottish Borders.

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The detective said that Casserly claimed to have paid €43,000 for the tractor and produced a docket in the name of 'Derek McGrath Motor Dealer', with an address at Monaghan Rd Middletown Co Armagh. 

The docket was dated November 28, 2013 which was two days before the theft in Scotland.

Det O Sullivan told the court he had driven up and down the Monaghan Rd as part of his investigations and found no such premises. He said the post code was bogus. He also spoke to other people in the trade and none had ever heard of a dealer called Derek McGrath.

The court heard that Mr Lauder had paid £59,000stg for the tractor but had received £47,000stg in compensation from his insurance company. He had also lost almost £5,000stg by having  to hire a replacement tractor and loss of work.

Defence Barrister Pat Purcell BL told the court his client accepted he had been reckless in the extreme.

He said that Casserly operated turf cutting and plant hire businesses and paid €43,000 for the tractor as he needed it for his turf cutting.

Referring to the bogus registration the lawyer said his client is now tax compliant but at the time had been in difficulties with the Revenue Commissioners and did not want them to know he had an expensive tractor in his shed.

Mr Purcell said his client who had a history of community involvement and charity fundraising had €2,500 in court as an expression of his remorse and Mr Lauder was willing to accept the money.

Replying to the barrister the detective agreed that Casserly had not stolen the tractor and had been out of pocket as a result of his actions.

'I hope its been an expensive lesson to learn', said the detective.

Judge Michael O Shea said the defendant should have taken more detailed precautions in respect of the tractor.

'If something is too good to be true its because it is', said the Judge.

He noted that a probation report had assessed Casserly at low risk of re-offending in the coming twelve months and imposed a suspended sentence of two and a half years.


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