Keith Crawford, a farmer from county Fermanagh, has avoided a term in jail after being found guilty of writing fraudulent cheques.
The accused appeared in Dungannon Crown court on Friday, where he appeared on a number of charges. These included writing fraudulent cheques, a series of driving offences and driving stolen machinery among other charges.
Mr. Crawford, the courts heard back in March, had been making false representations for payments which amounted to over €68,000. This was done despite Mr. Crawford knowing that he hadn’t the money to pay.
The farmer from Derrylin, Co. Fermanagh, was also guilty of agreeing to pay one farmer over £50,000 for 370 sheep, of which he failed to pay. Mr. Crawford was then challenged by the owner looking for money owed to him, leading to Mr. Crawford writing fraudulent cheques to the farmer. Both cheques then subsequently bounced.
The farmer was then caught, in April last year, driving a stolen New Holland tractor, this was followed three months later by Mr. Crawford being caught behind the wheel of a Land Rover, whilst disqualified and with no valid insurance. The courts heard that the farmer had purchased the Land Rover, again using a fraudulent cheque. It was alleged that he used a dodgy cheque to buy the Land Rover from a local dealership in Fermanagh.
The courts then heard how Mr. Crawford, who recently inherited a 230 acre farm, had made no efforts to repay any of the victims until the last minute. The Judge noted that Mr. Crawford did eventually pay the affected farmers, with Crawford paying £25,000 to one farmer for the 370 sheep. He also returned some of the sheep sold in the original deal.
The farmer was then handed down a 3 year suspended sentence by the judge, though he was warned over his future conduct. He was also disqualified from driving for a total of three years.
This was not it for Crawford though as he was ordered to spend one night in custody on Tuesday, as a result of an unpaid fine of £1,000. The fine had been fully discharged by the court case on Friday.