Man loses claim to stolen jeep bought ‘in good faith’

A Polish mechanic has lost his claim to a 4 x 4 vehicle he bought “in good faith” on the Done Deal website — but which turned out to be stolen.

Global insurance company Allianz also claimed it owned the vehicle, since it paid out over €21,000 insurance to the original owner in 2010 for loss of property and had the vehicle registration certificate.

Yesterday was the second day of the application by gardaí for disposal of the jeep. There has been a vigorous contest between the parties for possession of the vehicle — now worth just €5,000 — with solicitor for Allianz questioning Marcin Golonek how he got the money for the purchase.

Pa Daly, solicitor for Mr Golonek, yesterday questioned the origins of Allianz insurance and claimed this was the German company which insured the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The previous court heard how gardaí had seized the vehicle from a garage forecourt in Jan 2012, shortly after it was bought by Mr Golonek, of Lee Drive, Tralee, after an automatic detection system now fitted on most Garda patrol cars established the number plate as suspicious.

Mr Golonek, a father-of-three, had bought the jeep in Limerick, driving from Tralee early on Christmas Eve 2011 to seal what he believed to be a good deal. He had checked the vehicle and believed it to be authentic.

He had brought €5,250, the amount asked for on the Done Deal website, but managed to secure it for just €4,250. Although damaged, it was worth up to €11,000, the previous court was told by Garda vehicle expert Jim O’Brien.

Mr Golonek did work on it over Christmas and put it in for further repairs to a garage on the Dingle Road, where it was picked up by the Garda patrol car detection system.

Garda checks on the seized vehicle established it had been stolen in a robbery in Co Kildare in February 2010 and its chassis numbers and other number plates elaborately changed.

Mr Golonek only ever received photocopied documents and had no receipts for the cash he handed over, he told the court.

However, he had worked hard for his money and “did not pick it off the street”, he told Tom O’Halloran, solicitor for Allianz, who persisted in asking where he got the cash for the car and what time he set out to buy it on Christmas Eve.

Under cross-examination, Mr Daly asked if the company would compensate Mr Golonek for the repairs he had carried out. However, Allianz agent Kieran Healy told Mr Daly that they would not — the vehicle was registered in the company’s name and they were seeking recovery of it.

At this point Mr Daly put it to Mr Healy: “Allianz was founded in 1890 and for years it had ties with the German establishment — it insured Auschwitz?”

However, Judge James O’Connor intervened and said this line of questioning had no relevance to the matter in hand.

The judge said he was dismissing the claim of Mr Golonek and granting that of Allianz.

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