A LISNASKEA farmer has been handed a suspended prison sentence and ordered to repay the proceeds of cheques he “utilised for his own purposes.”
Gabriel Mohan (46) from Ballagh Road, Lisnaskea pleaded guilty to converting criminal property – namely two cheques – in June 2014.
Similar charges against a second man, Andrew David Eagleson (31) from Primrose Hill, Clogher, were dropped.
The court heard a farming husband and wife alerted police to the theft of two cheques totalling £16,979.29 on August 27 2014.
The funds were from cattle sold at Clogher Mart.
One cheque was initially issued for the full amount by Ulster Farmers Mart, but a request was then made for this to be replaced with two cheques – one to the husband for £8479.25 and the other to the wife for £8500 – for accounting purposes.
The husband was traveling to the United States for a time and asked Mohan to bring the cheque back to Clogher mart, take receipt of the two replacement cheques and pass them on to his wife.
This was never done.
After a time, the couple made enquiries with the Farmers Mart bank in Enniskillen and it was established that the two cheques had indeed been issued and paid into accounts – but not theirs.
Efforts to try to resolve this with Mohan came to nothing.
It later emerged he had “received the two cheques and utilised them for his own purpose.”
The bank subsequently reimbursed the farming couple, which left the mart out the funds.
This would later be reduced to £13,379.45, as the former co-accused Eagleson, realised what had occurred and made restitution on his liability.
A defence barrister told the court Mohan always said, “He had to repay the funds.”
He continued an offer had been made to repay half the amount, with the remainder to follow a few months later.
However, the injured parties had in the meantime gone to police.
The defence said his client knows the money has to go back, and requested some time to allow property or cattle to be sold to raise the necessary funds.
Judge Fowler pointed out, “He’s had four years.”
The length of time the case took to reach court was noted by the judge who said, “The file was submitted in 2015 and it took a very substantial period of time to be progressed.
“That was far too long for this money to be returned to the rightful owner. The defendant was in no way responsible for the delay in getting this matter to court.”
Judge Fowler concluded, “The custody threshold is well and truly passed.
“However primarily due to delay I am prepared to suspended on this occasion.”
Mohan was handed a 12-month prison term suspended for three years and ordered to pay £13,979.45 to Ulster Farmers Mart.
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