Man who sold "cloned" stolen vehicles online has six year sentence upheld

Leitrim Observer reporter

Reporter:

Leitrim Observer reporter

Email:

editor@leitrimobserver.ie

Caused criminal damage during Dundalk burglary

The case was heard at the Court of Appeal

A man jailed for his role in selling “cloned” stolen vans online, which saw unwitting buyers being defrauded out of €50,000, has lost an appeal against the severity of his six-year prison sentence. 

Tom Reilly (50), with a previous address at 4 Rosebank and 4 Shannon View, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim pleaded guilty to four sample counts of handling stolen property between August 1, 2009 and June 25, 2010. 

He was sentenced to six years imprisonment by Judge John Aylmer on May 21, 2019, which was upheld by the Court of Appeal today. 

Leitrim Circuit Criminal Court heard that the “sophisticated” fraud involved vans which had been stolen in the UK being brought to Ireland where they were sold on to unwitting buyers. 

Detective Garda Seamus Wallace told the court that UK police discovered stolen commercial vans being cloned in the UK before being exported to Ireland for sale. The UK unit had identified logbooks for vans being obtained fraudulently in order to clone the stolen vehicles. 

Det Gda Wallace explained how a person would contact the owner of a van similar to a stolen vehicle, in order to get all the details of the legitimately owned vehicle. They then applied for the logbook using these legitimate details and if the registered owner did not reply to a change of owner notification, a logbook would be issued to the person who applied. 

The stolen vehicle was then changed to fit the particulars of the legitimate logbook, including chassis numbers and security stickers. The vehicles were then imported into Ireland by Reilly and another individual, which were mostly sold on the DoneDeal website on Reilly’s behalf. 

In total, €50,150 was lost by unsuspecting buyers in Ireland, as a result of eight purchases. Each car was seized in order to establish its true identity and no monies were recouped by buyers. 

Upholding the severity of his six year prison sentence today, Mr Justice John Edwards said some 70 vehicles were detected in Ireland as having been cloned, although Reilly was only criminal liable in respect of 11 vehicles.

Mr Justice Edwards said the sentencing judge was entitled to have regard to the “larger picture” and to have the full facts presented in their proper context. It did not mean Reilly was held accountable for handling 70 stolen vehicles. 

The sentencing judge was justified in selecting eight years as a headline sentence, and a two-year discount afforded for the mitigating factors was open to him, according to the Court of Appeal. 

Mr Justice Edwards, who sat with President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, said the court could find no error in principle and the appeal was therefore dismissed.