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18 Aug 2022

Tipperary plant operator loses case to have machines returned by gardaí

Tipperary court: Tipperary plant operator loses case to have machines returned by gardaí

Nenagh Court: Tipperary plant operator loses case to have machines returned by gardaí

A plant operator who brought a case to have two machines returned to him by the State, lost his application at Nenagh Court when Judge Elizabeth MacGrath said she had doubts about their provenance.

Judge MacGrath granted the disposal of two track machines to An Garda Síochána after expressing concern over their acquisition.

The application by Eamonn Stanley of 2 Arravale Newtown, Nenagh, under the Police Property Act was in respect of two Takeuchi mini diggers that were seized by gardaí in 2017.

Det Garda Stuart Beattie gave evidence of executing search warrants at Pallas Beg, Newtown; Arravale, Newtown, and Slate Quarry, Corbally, Portroe, on December 15.

A number of items were seized at Pallas Beg, an address that Mr Stanley had access to. These included two track machines, two rock breakers and one dump truck. Mr Stanley was out of the country at the time.

Garda Beattie contacted him and sought documentation relating to the purchase of the items. He said the defendant replied that he would speak to his solicitor about the matter.

Mr Stanley was arrested on June 12, 2018, and questioned in relation to handling stolen property. Garda Beattie said no admissions were made and no documentation was produced.

The dump truck was found to have been stolen in the UK in November 2017, and was subsequently returned to its owners.
One of the rock breakers had been stolen in Limerick in 2008, and had also been returned.

Mr Stanley produced documentation for the other rock breaker and it was returned to him.

The defendant was convicted in relation to the stolen rock breaker at Nenagh District Court in December 2020.

Garda Beattie outlined difficulties with tracing the origin of the two track machines.

His inquiries included contacting Interpol to substantiate an invoice that Mr Stanley produced to show that he had purchased the machines. He described the authenticity of this document as “questionable”.

Garda Eamonn Raleigh, PSV inspector, said that he examined the five seized items in Nenagh. He cleaned them and used a magnifying glass to establish the VIN plate on one of the diggers, which had been damaged.

Mr Stanley’s evidence was that the two machines - a TB 125 and TB 175 - were purchased in the UK in 2012. He said he had a quarry in Portroe that he rented. He also crushed stone, did demolition work and had a timber business.

He had bought a lot of machines in the UK over the years and, at present, had more than a dozen.

Mr Stanley said VIN plates can often be scratched where they are positioned close to the bottom of machines working with rubble.

He denied that any in his ownership had been deliberately damaged.

Sgt Regina McCarthy pointed out that the investigation into ownership of the machines commenced in December 2017.

Mr Stanley did not produce his invoice until March 2021, though he was asked to produce documentation three times in the interim.

She asked Mr Stanley what had caused the delay.

Mr Stanley said he had been following legal advice at the time. He had made regular inquiries about getting the two machines back.

“This has hurt me deeply being without these machines,” he told the court.

Solicitor Michael Collins said production of the invoice was made in response to the Police Property application, which did not come until 2020.

He put it to the court that there was no evidence to suggest that either machine was stolen.

Mr Stanley had produced an invoice from a company that was legitimate and in existence in 2012.

However, Judge Elizabeth MacGrath expressed doubt over the validity of this document, which she noted was not signed.

She said the fact that other items, which were identified as stolen, were found in the defendant's possession meant the burden passed to Mr Stanley to produce evidence of ownership.

“The court has serious concerns regarding the length of time it has taken to produce this document as evidence of ownership,” Judge MacGrath stated, adding: “He has not produced documentation to the satisfaction of this court.”

The judge granted a disposal order to the gardaí. She fixed recognizance in the event of an appeal.

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