Warrant over stolen tractor executed after four years

Stock photo
Stock photo

Ciara Galvin

A Ballymote man who was involved in 'organised criminality' relating to stolen vehicles dating back to 2011 has been told if he doesn't appear in court in future he will go to prison.

A bench warrant for the arrest of Patrick Duffy of Killavill, Ballymote, was issued in June 2015 and was not executed until October of this year, when the man in his 30s surrendered himself to gardaí.

Detective Garda Oliver McHale explained to the court that Duffy had been before the court previously for two counts of handling a stolen John Deere tractor and a Nissan Pathfinder jeep.

The court was told on June 16th, 2011 gardaí noticed a John Deere tractor in Duffy's farmyard and on running a check on the registration they discovered it did not match, and believed it to be stolen.

On July 15th, 2011 gardaí executed a warrant at the farm, however, they could not locate the tractor and Duffy said his brother had sold it two months previously.

In August that year gardaí observed the tractor parked under trees at Knockranea, Killavill along with the Pathfinder jeep. After enquiries were made it was found that the land was rented by Duffy's father. Surveillance was carried out by gardaí of the land from August 18th to September 1st at which point a search warrant was applied for.

Before the warrant was executed Garda John Carroll stopped Duffy and another man loading the tractor on to a low loader. Duffy was subsequently arrested and the jeep was also retrieved.

In interview Duffy told gardaí he saw a man loading the tractor and he went to help him and then gardaí showed up. He denied possession of both vehicles.

Get the latest news from the Farming Independent team 3 times a week.

The tractor had belonged to a Mr George Nash from Bedfordshire, England and was stolen in 2005, while the jeep belonged to a Mr Tom Elliott from Blanchardstown, Co Dublin and was reportedly stolen on June 13th, 2011.

Sligo Circuit Court was told the tractor owner believed the vehicle to be worth £12,000 (€15,000). His insurance covered a loss of €8,000, along with compensation previously paid by Duffy of €3,750, leaving a remaining loss of €3,250.

The Nissan jeep was estimated to be worth €17,000, with €11,000 previously paid out by insurance and compensation of €3,750 by Duffy, leaving €2,250 outstanding.

Duffy's previous convictions were detailed to the court and included two possession of stolen property offences, assault causing harm, drink driving, intimidating a witness or juror and a theft matter relating to counterfeit currency, along with road traffic matters.

In 2013 he was sentenced to a five year suspended sentence on the first charge for the tractor and the second charge was adjourned for compensation and to consider community service.

On April 25th 2014 a Probation Report outlined Duffy had already received community service in Roscommon for a similar offence and could therefore not take up community service within the same calendar year and the matter was adjourned for a year.

On April 7th, 2015 a court was told Duffy had not been in contact with the Probation Service and was not present in court.

The aforementioned compensation of €7,500 was furnished to the court on behalf of Duffy and split between the injured parties.

On 3rd June 2015 a warrant was issued and was executed at Roscommon Court on October 11th last.

Representing Duffy, Mr Pat O'Sullivan, instructed by Mr Morgan Coleman solicitor, told the court his client contacted gardaí in early October from the UK and wanted to deal with matters.

He said during 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 there was no work for his client and he sought work in the UK.

Judge Francis Comerford enquired if Duffy had been working in Nigeria in the interim, as it had been mentioned in a Probation Report.

State prosecution, Mr Leo Mulrooney, BL, informed the court he was aware of a note that when the benchwarrant was taken there was a possibility he could have been in Nigeria.

Explaining his client's absence in dealing with matters, Mr O'Sullivan said Duffy was a carpenter and was in a 'Catch 22', in that he could not get work at home, but needed to save compensation.

"If he stayed to do 240 hours of community service he would not have compensation," said Mr O'Sullivan, who said if given an opportunity his client would put together further compensation. He said his client had €1,000 available in court and could put together €5,000 as he has the offer of a new job in January.

Judge Comerford clarified the figure outstanding to be €5,500.

The judge said Duffy had been involved in 'significant pre meditated criminality' and was part of a scheme to steal vehicles and was facilitating the process.

The judge noted when Duffy was detected by gardaí he then gave them false accounts and said it was Duffy's obligation to turn up for court.

He said he believed if the previous warrant had been executed in time, the suspended prison term would have been imposed.

The judge said he had to give Duffy some allowance for contacting the gardaí in October. He directed the €1,000 in court be split between the two injured parties and for Duffy to appear in court on October 6th next.

It was agreed that Duffy could leave the jurisdiction, but is to return on the next court date with €5,000.

If he does not return a one year prison sentence will be imposed.

Sligo Champion

For Stories Like This and More
Download the Free Farming Independent App