FOUR brothers who called to Kesh police station while towing a stolen trailer after a cross-border car chase have been convicted of handling stolen property.
Hugh Crumlish (22), Johnny Crumlish (19), and a youth who cannot be named, all of Coolcullen Meadow, Enniskillen, were charged with handling property that had been stolen in the South, namely a trailer from Donegal. Eldest brother Silvester Crumlish was charged with handling property stolen in the Republic and possessing an article in connection with fraud, namely a blank cheque belonging to Sean Maguire.
The brothers contested the charges at Enniskillen Magistrates Court on Wednesday, claiming they didn’t know the trailer they were transporting for their cousin had been stolen in Donegal.
The court heard that on September 6, 2013 the brothers called to Kesh police station, with the trailer in tow, after being chased by an unknown car across the border. They claimed to have been in Castlederg earlier that day and picked up the trailer that night in Castlefin after being called by their cousin. They said they believed the trailer, worth £800, had been bought in good faith in Donegal.
However, the prosecution said the brothers had been seen “hanging around” the Castlefin area earlier in the day, which Silvester Crumlish denied. The prosecution added the men had picked up the trailer, which did not have any lights, in the middle of the night and without a tow bar.
In his evidence to the court, Silvester Crumlish said his cousin was called Padraig McGinley, however the prosecution pointed out he had given a completely different name in his statement to police. They added it would’ve have been easy for the cousin to come to court or hand in a note verifying their story, but had failed to do so.
Crumlish told the court that when they came back across the border they noticed a car was following them, flashing its lights. As it was dark and they didn’t recognise the car they decided not to stop and they drove to the police station in Kesh.
With regard to the cheque belonging to Mr Maguire, which dated to the 1990s and which was in Crumlish’ possession when he called to the police station, Crumlish said he had found it under the seat of a car he had bought the week before the incident in 2013. The car had previously belonged to Mr Maguire but he had sold it around 2001. Crumlish said he had held onto the cheque, hoping to return it to its owner, and had not done anything to it.
The remaining three brothers declined to give evidence, instead relying on their statements to police. District Judge Nigel Broderick said he was taking adverse inference by their decision not to give evidence.
Defence barristers Ciaran Roddy and Stephen Fitzpatrick said there was a “dearth” of evidence against the men, applying for the case against the three youngest brothers to be dismissed, which was denied.
Representing Johnny Crumlish and the youth, Mr Roddy explained they were both sitting in the back of the car and were not aware the trailer was stolen. He added Johnny Crumlish had been asleep and only woke during the chase, while the youth had called the police himself from the back of the car when they were being chased. Mr Roddy said this suggested his innocence. He said there was no evidence against his clients, however Judge Broderick said there was circumstantial evidence.
Judge Broderick said, with regard the cheque, he didn’t believe a word Silvester had said in his evidence and convicted him of the offence. He said he also did not believe the account he gave of picking up the trailer, and said he was equally concerned that the three remaining brothers had not given evidence. Stating he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt, Judge Broderick convicted all four of the charge of handling stolen property.
Judge Broderick gave the youth, who had no criminal record, a 12 month conditional discharge, meaning if he does not reoffend in the next year he will avoid a criminal conviction.
He fined Johnny, who had a limited non-related record, to £250. With regard Hugh, who had a previous non-related criminal record, to four months in prison suspended for 12 months.
Judge Broderick said eldest brother Silvester was “a different character” as he had more previous convictions and was the driver, and sentenced him to a total of five months in prison. Silvester later lodged his intention to appeal the sentence.
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Posted: 1:00 pm May 27, 2016