A man believed by gardaí to be one of the most prolific scam artists in the country using the DoneDeal website has been jailed for five years with the final year suspended.
Owen Maughan(40), a father of five from 39 Innishannagh Park, Newcastle, Galway, used the popular website to advertise and sell livestock trailers that were stolen from farmers attending marts in Galway and Clare last year.
Maughan - who has 91 previous convictions - received the sentence at Galway Circuit Criminal Court.
Garda Det Paul McNulty, who has investigated Maughan's activities over the past two years, told the sentence hearing the charges related to the theft of three Ifor Williams cattle trailers from car parks at marts in Athenry, Tuam and Kilrush between March 21st and 23rd last year.
Following a ‘sting’ operation to recover an advertised trailer that was stolen, Det McNulty later arrested and charged Maughan with handling stolen property.
The garda told the court: “I can say, without a doubt, that he is one of the most prolific scam artists in this country using the DoneDeal website.”
Maughan's barrister, Gabriel Reynolds, had told the court his client's wife had brought €1,000 cash to court to offer as compensation to the victims.
After Judge Rory McCabe imposed the five-year sentence, Maughan offered a further €4,000 cash.
The judge said it was “too little too late”, but he directed the €1,000 be divided between the victims.
The judge said these were serious, premeditated crimes against the farming community that depended and operated to a great extent on trust.
Maughan had already served a prison sentence for the theft of two other livestock trailers and for selling non-existent concert tickets, match tickets, and car parts to users of DoneDeal.
That sentence was imposed in July 2016 and expired last August.