A farmer in the midlands has been found not guilty of possessing a stolen tractor in court recently, the Leinster Express has reported.
Adrian Fitzpatrick, a 41-year-old farmer with an address of Derrydavy, Mountmellick in Co. Laois, pleaded not guilty to being in possession of a stolen tractor at a sitting of Portlaoise Circuit Court this week.
It is alleged that a stolen Massey Ferguson tractor, which had a front loader attached, was spotted in close proximity to Fitzpatrick’s house on October 24, 2014.
According to the Leinster Express, Garda Darrell Rigney told the court that he saw the tractor in question parked in a laneway “practically blocking the entrance” to Fitzpatrick’s property, with a 14ft trailer parked behind it.
Rigney claims that Fitzpatrick said the tractor belonged to him when he called to him on the morning of October 24, before declaring he had no previous knowledge of the tractor just a few hours later.
However, the farmer reportedly refutes any claims that he ever told the Gardai that the tractor belonged to him.
In an interview, Fitzpatrick is believed to have confirmed that he owned the trailer found in the laneway. He added that he had lent it to a named individual on October 23, 2014.
Fitzpatrick allegedly told the court that the first time he had seen the tractor was when he was returning from his field to the house at around 11:30am on October 24, 2014.
Questions were raised whether or not the 14ft trailer was used to transport the 4t tractor; but Gardai could not confirm whether or not the trailer was capable of carrying that load.
Meanwhile, Donal Keane – who was cross-examining for the state – asked the farmer how it was possible that he did not see a “huge red tractor” when he first left the house at 10:00am, the Leinster Express reported.
Replying, Fitzpatrick told the court that he “didn’t remember looking over to that area” and explained that a hedge was possibly blocking the tractor from view.
He continued to explain that the last time he had been out in that area was between 8:00pm and 9:00pm on October 23; he said he had no idea as to what time the tractor had arrived.
The jury eventually found the farmer not guilty of being in possession of the stolen tractor.