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Dublin man caught with stolen car kitted out with false plates

James Molloy
James Molloy

A man who was caught with a stolen car fitted with false plates told gardai he was put under pressure to sell on the vehicle to repay a debt to "loan sharks".

James Molloy (34) took out a €2,000 loan from a money lender but left Ireland for a time without repaying it. He said he was put under pressure to get involved in this offence after the "loan sharks" got wind of his return.

Molloy, of Whitestown Walk, Blanchardstown, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to handling a stolen Volkswagen Jetta and possession of a forged tax disk outside his home on January 24, 2016. He has no previous convictions.

Judge Melanie Greally said Molloy had been put under pressure by "very unforgiving loan sharks".

She noted he had addressed his alcohol addiction and felt the appropriate level of shame for his involvement. She imposed a three-year sentence which she suspended in full.

Garda Ronan Farrelly told Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, that gardai went to Molloy's home and found the Volkswagen Jetta parked outside. Molloy gave gardai the keys to the car.

Gardai checked the chassis number on the vehicle and established the car was stolen and had false number plates fitted. They also recovered a fake tax disk and log book for the car.

Molloy told gardai that he knew the car was stolen and said he had been given instructions to change the plates. He said he had dumped the original plates in a service station bin.

He said that he owed a €2,000 debt and was told this offence would settle it. He accepted that the vehicle documents were fake and that he knew it was a "con" involving cloned cars.

Gda Farrelly agreed with defence counsel, Jennifer Jackson BL, that Molloy had not come to any further garda attention. He accepted Molloy was on the "very lowest rung of the ladder".

Ms Jackson said Molloy's life had been unremarkable until he was 15 years old and found out his step father was not his biological father. She said this hit him hard and he began drinking heavily. He also began over-eating and reached a weight of 28 stone at one stage.

She said Molloy got a FAS scholarship to drive lorries and study business management in Wisconsin. She said before he left he came into contact with individuals who said they could get him a €2,000 loan quickly from a money lender.

Counsel said Molloy left Ireland in March 2014 without repaying the loan but his demons followed him to the US where he drank heavily and the scholarship was cancelled.

She said he returned to Ireland in January 2015. The "loan sharks" got wind of his return and told him to take the car and sell it on to discharge the debt. Ms Jackson said he felt under duress.

Counsel said Molloy did not intend to sell the car but use it to get to work driving articulated lorries and use that money to repay the debt.

She submitted that her client had rehabilitated himself significantly in the last year. She said he came from a decent law-abiding family, was in a stable relationship and had full-time employment. She said he was remorseful and had been sober since last April.

Fiona Ferguson