A man caught with €36,000 of stolen ESB materials in the back of a van when stopped by Gardai has been given one last chance by a Judge.
Brian Ward, who had 20 previous convictions, was stopped by Gardai in a van on the dual carriageway at Bonagee outside Letterkenny on September 2nd, 2013.
When Gardai searched the van it contained 18 specialist allow wheels used to erect ESB poles and were valued at €2,000 each.
The wheels had been filed down and disguised to look like they had been used over a period of time.
However, the wheels were actually brand new and had been reported stolen from an ESB site at Menaroy, Churchill.
Ward, 20, was charged with handling stolen goods while another man in the van had fled to England.
Gardai said that Ward had told them that they were planning to sell the wheels and other metal for scrap to McEhinney’s Scrapyard in Ballybofey but would probably only receive about €600 for the scrap value.
Judge O’Hagan asked Garda Derek Connaughton if he thought McElhinney’s knew where the goods might have come from.
The Gardai replied that he knew they were not Brian Ward’s fairly quickly and that the ESB stamp were all over the goods.
Judge O’Hagan said he did not believe this was an opportunist crime saying that this was very specialist equipment and said he was particularly concerned that the ESB logos had been rubbed off them on purpose.
However he said he was prepared to give Ward a chance but it was a final chance.
“I will give him a chance but is the last chance he is going to get. If he comes up in future for theft charges he will go away,” he warned.
He sentenced Ward to two years in jail but replaced the sentence with 240 hours community service and ordered €400 handed in by Ward to court to go to the Donegal Hospice.
Judge O’Hagan then initially ordered Gardai to bring a trailer being used in the theft to the scrapyard to see if they could get any cash for it!
However he revoked the order after hearing it may be used in the case against a second man being sought in connection with the crime.