Dealer in stolen farm equipment sent to jail

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A FAILED entrepreneur who dishonestly handled more than £200,000-worth of stolen farm equipment has been jailed for three years.

Anthony Gribbin, 33, had plans to restore the listed 17th century Leaventhorpe Hall in Bradford and run a successful equestrian business, but he now faces financial ruin and bankruptcy.

Judge John Potter described Gribbin’s fall from grace as “breathtaking” but said his offending was characterised by greed and an apparent avaricious nature.

Over a seven-week period in 2009, Gribbin, who had no previous convictions, sold on items of agricultural and building equipment which had been stolen from locations across Yorkshire including Holmfirth, Halifax, Wakefield and Eldwick, near Bingley.

Almost all the stolen equipment was returned to its owners but Bradford Crown Court heard that the unsuspecting dealers who bought items from Gribbin had lost out.

A week before Gribbin was due to be sentenced for seven charges relating to the handling of stolen tractors and other equipment he was caught again trying to sell on hired equipment for more than £16,000.

His barrister Rodney Jameson QC explained that Gribbin had wanted to get some money to keep his business afloat while he was serving his prison sentence.

Judge Potter said the fraud offence, for which Gribbin recruited his employee Jonathon Nunn, was a flagrant breach of his bail.

Nunn, 26, of Thornton Road, Bradford, had his six-month jail term for the fraud matter suspended for a year. He was also ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Potter told Gribbin he had been involved in the organised handling of stolen high-value items and had made dishonest representations to traders.

The judge noted that transactions in the farming community often took place on the basis of someone’s good word or good will and Gribbin’s behaviour had undermined that process.

The judge made a confiscation order against Gribbin which means two of the dealers will get back about £17,000 between them.