A Limerick student avoided jail after he was found guilty of possessing a stolen jeep and tricking a customer into paying a deposit for it.
However, as he walked free from court, Christopher Kelly, aged 31, of Newtown, Castletroy was warned he will go to jail if he “puts a foot wrong” over the next five years.
Judge Patrick McCartan described Kelly as the “bad apple” of his family who had “brazenly lied through his teeth” to the jury in the face of overwhelming evidence against him.
He acknowledged that Kelly was trying to “change his ways” and doing well in his studies at the University of Limerick.
Kelly has previously served two and half years in jail for handling and possessing stolen vehicles, after his garage was raided by gardaí in April 2009.
Following a trial at Dublin Circuit Court, which was heard in March, the father-of-one was convicted of possessing a stolen Toyota Land Cruiser at Old Lucan Road, Palmerstown on September 28, 2007.
He was also found guilty of persuading Paddy O’Brien to pay a deposit of €500 for the stolen jeep at Liffey Valley Shopping Centre on September 15, 2007 and of attempting to induce Mr O’Brien to buy the jeep for €25,000 two weeks later.
Detective Garda Gerard Kenny told Vincent Heneghan BL, prosecuting, that he was contacted by Mr O’Brien after he became suspicious about the price being sought by the defendant.
Gardaí examined the jeep and noticed the chassis number didn’t correspond with the engine number.
It emerged the chassis number belonged to a jeep which had crashed near Headford, Co Galway and had passed through several pairs of hands before ending up with Kelly.
The court heard Kelly welded off a large portion of the chassis from the crashed jeep and attached it to a jeep stolen from another man in November 2006.
Kelly, who was arrested in April 2009, denied changing the chassis, although his counsel said he now accepts the jury’s verdict.
He has 32 previous convictions including three for possessing stolen cars.
Most of the convictions are for driving offences and he has been disqualified from driving for 15 years.
Damien Colgan SC, defending, said his client is studying technological management at UL.
Judge McCartan ordered him to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for five years.