28 Jun 2022

Man jailed for possession of stolen vehicles in north Longford

Victims: Motorhome stolen from elderly couple as they were buying supplies for year-long trip to Italy

Man  jailed for possession of stolen vehicles in north Longford

A man has been jailed for three years following a lengthy hearing into his possession of stolen vehicles at a recent sitting of Longford Circuit Court.

Amadeus Dziubinski, with an address at 59 Kilnavara Heights, Cavan, was given two consecutive three-year prison sentences but Judge Keenan Johnson suspended the second sentence in full for a period of five years on the condition that he enter into a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for five years post-release, and that he leave Ireland and move back to Poland on his release from prison.

In March of this year, Mr Dziubinski pleaded guilty to possession of a Ford Transit minibus and a Ford Transit campervan, both stolen and both with false registration numbers, on March 14, 2016, at Ferriskill, Granard.

He also pleaded guilty to possession of a Ford Transit engine, knowing it was stolen or being reckless as to whether it was stolen, on April 19, 2016, at Teemore Industrial Estate in Granard.

Mr Dziubinski’s case was initially set for trial, with six weeks to be set down for it. He had been in custody since January 19, 2022, and his sentence was backdated.

During a lengthy hearing at the recent sittings of Longford Circuit Court, Judge Keenan Johnson heard that the accused was involved in the re-identification and registering of stolen vehicles.

The majority of vehicles were Ford Transit vans which were stolen in London and then given a new identity.

The new identity, the court heard, came from vehicles that were written off or purchased at auctions with much higher mileage and a much older manufacture date.

When the vehicles were re-registered under new, false identities, they were imported to Ireland where the accused was involved in the creating of false documentation, which was used to re-register the vehicles in Ireland.

These vehicles were then sold on to unsuspecting purchasers, with Mr Dziubinski heavily involved in the sale of the vehicles.

“While it is accepted that there is no evidence he participated in the theft of the vehicles, he was clearly aware of their illegitimate provenance and facilitated their purported ligitimisation for the purposes of sale,” said Judge Johnson.

“Garda Fahy, the lead investigating guard, deserves great credit for the enormous time and effort he put into investigating these offences and ultimately bringing the accused to justice.

“It is accepted that there are other parties involved in the scheme whose cases have not yet been dealt with. It is further accepted that, while the accused was actively involved in the scheme, he was not at the head of it.”

He went on to note that the offences were serious and “by no means purely commercial in nature”, with the main victims being the owners of the stolen vehicles.

The court was furnished with a victim impact statement from 83-year-old Terence Williams, the owner of the stolen Ford motor home who, along with his wife, was about to embark on a year-long trip to Italy with his wife in that very vehicle. They had rented out their London home for the year.

The motorhome was stolen from the carpark of a Tesco in London when Mr Williams and his wife were in the store purchasing supplies for their trip.

After completing their shopping, they went back to the carpark to discover their motorhome had been stolen with all of their personal effects, including contact lenses, glasses, bed linen, pillows, duvets, towels, toothbrushes, toothpase, dressing gowns, clothing, coats, shoes, pots, pans, cutlery, two foldable bicycles and a guitar.

Their passports were also taken and they had nowhere to go or stay, becoming practically homeless.

Mr Williams, in his victim impact statement described how he and his wife had to stay with his partner’s daughter in a two bed flat with six other people for a period of several months.

They then rented student accommodation, which they said was extremely small, until the insurance claim came through and they could replace their stolen motorhome in June 2016.

Despite getting a reimbursement from the insurance company, they were out of pocket to the tune of £16,000 approximately.
“Mr Williams describes how their quality of life has been changed as a consequence of the theft of their motorhome,” said Judge Johnson.

“They are now more anxious, fearful and scared. He states that they will never be able to regain the carefree and idyllic approach they had to camping before the motorhome was stolen.

“The victim impact statement from Mr Williams amply illustrates the devastating consequences that can flow from the theft of motorhomes and valuable vehicles.

“The court has huge sympathy for Mr Williams and his partner. It is regrettable that the court is not in a position to offer any form of recompense to them for their loss.

“I have said on many occasions that victims of crime are short changed by the system. The interests of justice dictates that the likes of Mr Williams should receive the balance of his out-of-pocket expenses which arose from an act of criminality,” he added.

“Unfortunately, there is no facility to do that as matters stand, particularly where as in the present case, the accused is not in a position to make recompense to the victim.

“It has to be borne in mind that Mr Williams is just one of many victims of thefts that were facilitated by the accused’s offending.”

While it was argued in court that Mr Dziubinski did not steal the vehicles and that his culpability was therefore considerably less than that of the actual thieves, Judge Johnson was not prepared to accept that.

“People like the accused, who engage in the falsification of vehicle identities so as to hide the fact they are stolen, are enablers of those who commit the actual theft,” he said.

“Without people like the accused to create a market for such vehicles, the incentive to steal such vehicles would be greatly reduced.

“It is clear that the accused knew that he was involved in illicit activity when he falsified documents in respect of the stolen vans,” said Judge Johnson when turning to sentencing.

“It is also clear that he played a very active role in the scheme and that it went on for a considerable period of time. As this case has illustrated, the offending that the accused engaged in is not victimless and the effect of his offending on the victims is again something the court must take into account.”

He noted that the accused had three previous convictions under the Public Order Act, and a previous conviction for theft in September 2017, which attracted a two-month prison sentence at Cavan District Court in March of this year. All remaining previous convictions were road traffic matters and therefore not relevant.

Judge Johnson also noted that Mr Dziubinski breached his bail terms, returning to Poland. A bench warrant was issued and he was extradited back to face the courts by means of European arrest warrant.

It was accepted that the accused travelled to Poland to receive psychiatric treatment following an attempted suicide in 2018, as his parents felt he was not receiving the help he needed here in Ireland.

However, Judge Johnson maintained that consent should have been sought from Gardaí to amend his bail terms.

“The failure to make any recompense to the victims of his criminality cannot be taken as an aggravating factor, however, the accused does not enjoy the significant mitigation that the payment of partial or complete compensation to the victims would attract,” he said.

He did, however, note that a plea of guilt, while furnished “late in the day” was of significant benefit to the court, as the case was likely to take four to six weeks had it proceeded to trial. His guilty plea will also significantly shorten the trials of the two co-accused who have yet to be tried.

A further mitigating factor was the fact that, in June 2016, Mr Dziubinski was kidnapped for two days, beaten and had money extorted from him, resulting in PTSD. His other mental health problems, including depression and an attempted suicide were also taken into account.

Incarceration also separates him from his girlfriend and, as a consequence, he will miss out on the birth of his first child. He will also be separated from his parents, with Judge Johnson admitting all of this would serve as significant punishment.

He also accepted that the accused submitted a letter of apology to the court and appeared to be remorseful for his offending, indicating that he wants to return to Poland and continue with his life there.

Judge Johnson proceeded to hand down the two consecutive three-year sentences, suspending the final sentence for a period of five years with a condition that Mr Dziubinski return to Poland upon his release from prison and remains there for the duration of the suspended sentence.

Credit was given for 169 days already served in prison since January 2022.

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