Thursday 23 November 2017

'Informal mechanic' caught with stolen car gets three year sentence

Aoife Nic Ardghail

An “informal” Dublin mechanic who was caught with vehicles and property stolen from around the country has received a three year sentence with one suspended.

Stephen Walpole (49) initially claimed someone had delivered a stolen van, which was found partially hidden on his property, so he could remove identity stickers. He then told gardaí he had it because he’d been owed money for its repair. Gardaí had tracked it to his address using its satellite tracking system.

Garda Ruadhan McLoughlin said that he and colleagues discovered more stolen vehicles and property from stolen vehicles in and around Walpole's home.

Gda McLoughlin said he spotted Walpole outside a motor repairs company two months later with another stolen vehicle on the back of his truck.

Walpole, of Parkhill Close, Tallaght, pleaded guilty on a trial date at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possessing stolen property, including an Opel Astra van, two stolen cars, a Sat Nav, bull bars, a bicycle, golf clubs and a spare key from a car on March 3, 2011. He also pleaded guilty to possessing a stolen vehicle on the back of his truck at AGA Motors, Tallaght on May 19, 2011.

Gda McLoughlin told Garnet Orange BL, prosecuting, that the bull bars and golf clubs had been in two stolen Toyota Land Cruisers, which have never been found. The spare car key had belonged to one motorist who had left it in her partner’s car, which had been stolen and also never recovered.

The garda said he and colleagues seized the goods inside Walpole’s house, on his driveway and on a neighbour’s property. The neighbour had permitted Walpole to leave things there, but hadn’t known they were stolen.

The father-of-two has 65 previous convictions dating back to 1979, including 12 robberies, two dangerous driving offences and one escape from custody.

Gda McLoughlin agreed with Gerry O’Brien SC, defending, that this would have been a big case had it gone to trial, with a possible 79 witnesses and a 500 page book of evidence. He agreed it had been 14 years since Walpole’s last larceny offence and that he had cooperated with gardai in the investigation.

Mr O’Brien submitted to Judge Hogan that though his client had pleaded on a trial date, this still assisted the State greatly given the size of the book of evidence.

He said Walpole had always been interested in cars and was an “informal mechanic”.

When the judge put it to him about “drawing an inference” that Walpole had been “deeply involved with certain people” because of the amount of stolen goods, counsel submitted that his client is a “silly man” charged only with possession.

Mr O’Brien said there was no evidence to suggest his client was involved in crime “the length and breadth of the country”.

Judge Hogan said he would give Walpole credit for his guilty plea and suspended the final 12 months of the sentence for three years.

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