A Lithuanian mechanic who was paid €100 a week to strip high-end stolen vehicles so car parts could be shipped on to Eastern Europe has been sentenced to three years in jail.
Nerigus Flederis, aged 34, who was living in “a filthy caravan with no running water” in McAuley’s Yard, Flemington, Balbriggan, Co Dublin, at the time, secured the job after meeting a man in a nightclub.
He told gardaí he was curious when he was asked to work on the vehicles but he did not ask any questions. He maintained that, had he realised the vehicles had been stolen, he would not have done the work.
He pleaded guilty to four counts of being in possession of stolen vehicles — an Audi A5; an Audi Q3; a Nissan Qashqai; and a BMW 3 series — on September 20, 2013. The pleas were accepted on the basis that Flederis was reckless as to whether the vehicles were stolen.
He also pleaded guilty to being in possession of two petrol tanks on the same date in McAuley’s yard.
Flederis, who has no previous convictions, has been in custody since his arrest as he did not have money for bail. He has a six-year-old son, who lives in Lithuania with his former partner.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring suspended 18 months of the sentence, having accepted Flederis showed no signs of making any profit from “this sophisticated and profitable organisation”.
She congratulated the gardaí for their investigation before saying the accused had “an essential involvement in a very lucrative criminal enterprise”.
“Without people such as him turning a blind eye these businesses could not prosper,” said Judge Ring.
Garda Brian Fahy told Ronan Kennedy BL, prosecuting, that gardaí in Balbriggan and Santry had been investigating the thefts of to cars during burglaries. It was suspected that the vehicles were dismantled before their parts were sent to the Eastern European market.
The four cars had been stolen from Rathmines, Rathgar, and Celbridge in Kildare in September 2013. In most cases, the keys of the vehicles had been “fished” from the owner’s home via the letterbox.
The remains of two Mercedes 3 Series cars, license plates, and petrol tanks, were found in a lock-up in the yard. These cars had been stolen in June 2013.
The yard was raided after a surveillance operation during which the BMW 3 series was followed from Celbridge.
Flederis said he got €100 a week to dismantle the cars, during which he would remove engines, seats, doors and glass before the parts would be placed in boxes. He was present when a lorry arrived to take a container and said he was aware that this container was later shipped to Lithuania.
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