A suspended prison sentence has been handed down to a man convicted of selling stolen caravans, at Kilkenny Circuit Court.
James Berry, 7 Raheen, Rosbercon, New Ross, pleaded guilty to two charges of being in possession of stolen property.
Detective Garda Brian Whitty gave evidence that he was contacted by a garda from Mallow. The Cork garda said a local man had presented at his station with a caravan he said he bought from Mr Berry for €4,700. When the man checked with the UK Central Registration and Identification Scheme (CRIS) it transpired the caravan had been stolen in October 2013 in the UK.
The caravan was checked with the garda stolen vehicle unit and they discovered the VIN number had been altered.
On July 18, 2018, Det. Garda Whitty executed a search warrant at the home of Mr Berry. The detective checked the VIN number of the caravan Mr Berry was living in, a Rallye Compass, and again the VIN number had been altered. Det Garda Whitty checked with CRIS and this caravan had also been stolen in the UK.
Mr Berry was arrested and interviewed. He said he bought the caravan he later sold in Cork from a ‘Thomas Dooley’ for €3,900. When gardaí checked there was no address matching that given for this man.
A loss adjuster took possession of the Cork caravan as the UK insurance company had paid out when it was stolen.
The Cork man eventually bought it back.
The Rallye caravan was also stolen in the UK. Mr Berry said he bought it for €11,500 in London or Manchester from ‘a gypsy’ and gave his name to gardaí.
The original owner of this caravan was identified in Kent. It had not been covered by insurance and was returned to its owner.
The owner said approximately £4,500 of damage had been caused to the caravan — locks were smashed, an alarm was smashed, the electrical system needed to be replaced, the toilet was broken and the hitch needed to be replaced, among other issues.
The model would normally fetch £14,000 but the owner said they would be lucky to get £4,000 for it.
The court heard that Mr Berry is a caravan dealer and there was no evidence he was involved in the thefts. He was reckless in that he paid under the value he should have known the caravans were worth, as a dealer.
Mr Paul Murphy, defending, said it was Mr Berry who recommended the man in Cork get in touch with CRIS to register the caravan.
He said his client had spoken freely with the gardaí. He had not been as diligent as he should have been in his business dealings.
Mr Berry was 22 at the time. He now has a wife and two children. He brought €2,000 to court to offer as a token of his remorse.
A Probation Report said he was at low risk of reoffending and has a stable family life.
Letters from social workers and a health professional were handed in to the court.
Judge Cormac Quinn sentenced Mr Berry to 18 months imprisonment on each charge, suspended in full for 18 months on condition he keep the peace and be of good behaviour and pay €2,000 in compensation to be divided between the injured parties.
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