Man who operated 'chop shop' for stolen parts from tractors jailed
A man who operated a 'chop shop' for stolen parts from luxury cars including BMWs and Audis as well as high-tech tractors has been jailed for two years.
Gerard 'Ger' Holland (65) was warned by Judge Sean O'Donnabhain at Cork Circuit Criminal Court that he was guilty of "a nasty crime" that he got involved with purely for his own profit.
Holland appeared on charges relating to more than €600,000 in stolen car and tractor parts.
The court heard that the so-called 'chop shop' operated with stolen parts supplied by a criminal gang operating in the greater Armagh area and which had suspected links to paramilitaries.
Holland's tractor sales and repair premises was targeted for a search by Gardaí as part of a major operation into the theft of luxury vehicles across both the Republic and Northern Ireland.
"His culpability in this is significant," the judge warned.
"It is criminality at its highest - he was knowingly involved. He was doing it for profit."
The judge added that it was not "a victimless crime" with distress and upset caused for those whose vehicles were targeted.
Holland pleaded guilty before Cork Circuit Criminal Court on a number of sample charges of handling stolen car and tractor parts including engines.
Holland of Lislevane, Bandon, Co Cork pleaded guilty to a total of 11 sample counts from a total of 42 counts listed on the charge sheet from the district court.
Holland pleaded guilty to having stolen property in his possession on various dates over a six year period.
The sample counts refer to dates between September 2010 and October 2016.
All the charges refer to the defendant having stolen car and tractor parts in his possession at his Bandon address.
Judge Donnabháin was told that the stolen property including various parts and engines from luxury cars including BMWs and Audis as well as other types of cars such as Volkswagens.
Amongst the vehicles for which engines and other parts were involved were Audi A4s, BMW 520D, BMW 320D, BMW 320D and a BMW 318.
The tractor parts included material for two New Holland tractors.
In some cases, cars had been cut up and valuable parts sold off or installed in other vehicles.
In other cases, the identification numbers on the engines had been ground out - and were then stamped with fake identification numbers.
Those who then purchased the parts from Holland in west Cork believed the items were fully legitimate.
The gang involved in supplying the parts were based in the Crossmaglen area and were notorious for their links to burglaries and vehicle thefts.
Many of the stolen vehicles - including the tractors - were driven overnight to west Cork from Northern Ireland, always on back roads where there were no tolls or major CCTV security camera coverage.
The court was told that while 11 sample counts were involved, the defence acknowledged that, in sentencing evidence, the State would outline details in respect of all the 42 counts on the charge sheet.
Holland been making strenuous efforts to compensate the various parties involved and has raised a total of €100,000.
Holland pleaded guilty to the offences last November but sentencing was adjourned to allow for the preparation of a Probation and Welfare Service (PWS) report to assist the court.
"He is a 65 year old man and has never had difficulties like this before," defence counsel Siobhan Lankford BL said.
The judge said the headline figure involved was six years in prison but he acknowledged Holland's early plea had saved the State "a nightmare" trial.
He also noted Holland's lack of previous convictions, the fact he had worked all his life, his clear co-operation with Gardaí and his efforts to compensate the victims.
Judge O'Donnabhain also noted that Holland has underlying health issues.
He suspended four years of the six year term with Holland to serve two years in prison.
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