Man from Skegness lost nearly £8k after buying stolen farm vehicle

Court news
Court news

A Skegness man lost £7,850 after he bought a farm vehicle which had been stolen from an estate in Norfolk.

Lincoln Crown Court heard the Nissan Navara was advertised on Autotader with different registration plates three days after it was stolen from a farm manager at the Houghton Hall estate in July 2013.

Phil Howes, prosecuting, said the vehicle was stolen after the farm manager left the keys in the ignition while he made a two minute phonecall at a nearby lake.

A buyer from Skegness handed over £7,850 in cash for the vehicle after travelling to an address linked to Steven Abram, 60.

It had been advertised on Autotader just three days after being stolen from Norfolk.

Abram, of Sycamore Road, Whittlsey, Cambs, and two other defendants, Claire Harvey, 33, of Gilbert Close, Kirkstall, Leeds, and Andrew Smith, 45, of Feoffes Road, Somersham, Huntington, admitted a charge of handling stolen goods.

Mr Howes said in total three people lost £22,300 after buying stolen vehicles advertised on either Autotader or eBay.

All the vehicles had their registration plates changed and pre-paid phones were used during the transactions.

The court heard a Metropolitan police officer paid £6,500 for a Landrover Freelander after meeting Harvey, who used the name Linda, at an address in Wisbech.

Another buyer handed over £7,950 in two installments for a Mitsubishi Warrior after going to an address in St Ives.

Karen Walton, mitigating, for Smith told the court he was supporting his partner who had been diagnosed with incurable cancer.

The court heard Abram had also developed health difficulties in the five years since the offence, and Harvey was currently on benefits.

Passing sentence Judge Andrew Easteal told all three defendants they could have been facing a different sentence if not for the passing of time and the change in their circumstances.

Smith was sentenced to 18 months probation supervision, Abram was ordered to carry out 130 hours of unpaid work in the community and Harvey was sentenced to 12 months probation supervision.

The judge told all three: “Alot of time has passed, if nothing else I hope the fact this has been hanging over you for so long has taught you a lesson.”