A farmer who bought a “hot” tractor for €16,000 when it was arguably worth €64,000 yesterday got a three-year suspended sentence and a €15,000 fine for handling stolen property.
Judge David Riordan imposed the penalties on James O’Regan, aged 51, of Curraglass, Castlecor, Mallow, Co Cork.
A jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court last week convicted him of handling the stolen John Deere tractor.
Sgt Eileen Kelly that said she accompanied Department of Agriculture officers to the defendant’s farm on Jan 30, 2012 and noted the chassis number of the tractor.
Upon further investigation she discovered that it had been stolen in England and the insurers had paid out stg£54,000 (roughly €64,000) to the owner.
James O’Regan said later that he paid €16,000 for the tractor to a person he met at the Island Gate Tavern.
The defendant had previous convictions including one for assault causing harm to an officer of Revenue Commissioners.
Blaise O’Carroll SC, defending, said O’Regan was now at a loss for the tractor which was seized from him, and the loss of €16,000.
The defence counsel called character evidence in which the defendant was variously described as a good neighbour, a hard-working farmer, and “not a criminal with a capital C”.
Judge Riordan disagreed with the latter statement and said: “This is criminal offending of a serious nature. He brought this calamity on his own head and it was motivated by greed.”
The judge said that on a rough calculation of the defendant’s income — without reference to outgoings — it was €350,000 per year and he could have afforded to pay the correct price for a tractor.
The judge said that to be offered this particular John Deere tractor at €16,000 it would have been obvious that it was “hot”.
“He came into possession of a reasonably high value tractor and he disregarded the risk that it had been stolen,” said Judge Riordan.
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