A NEWCASTLE West man charged with the unauthorised taking of a vehicle that he had bought on Done Deal was found not guilty at Kilmallock Court.
William Quilligan, aged 45, of Temple Green, Newcastle West said he bought the car at “face value” but was “reckless”.
Gardai said it was a “deal too good to be true”.
The victim of a burglary gave evidence that on October 26, 2014, his home in Leixlip was broken into. The keys to a 2010 grey Toyota Avensis were taken and the car was stolen.
In November, Detective Garda James Hourihane, regional fraud investigator, saw a Toyota Avensis advertised for sale in Limerick city for €10,250.
“The price arose my suspicion. I knew the average price of the same make and model was €14,000,” said Detective Garda Hourihane, who carried out a garda Pulse search and relayed the information to Detective Garda Ivan Muldoon.
“I subsequently became aware the accused was arrested the following day,” said Detective Garda Hourihane, who added that he went to a garage where Mr Quilligan got a Cartell history check of the vehicle.
“The advert included a Cartell check,” said Detective Hourihane, who made inquiries with Done Deal about the history of the advert.
“It transpired it was advertised twice. The one which I saw advertised a price of €10,250. The advert originally placed on Done Deal was €8,950.
“Certain vehicles are stolen to order and are sold in different parts of the country using Done Deal to legitimise the sale. If the person is caught they can say I bought it on Done Deal. Unfortunately it is what is happening,” said Detective Garda Hourihane.
Mr Quilligan’s solicitor, John Herbert, said his client saw it advertised for €8,950, went to Dublin, made the purchase, came back to Limerick and put it up on Done Deal.
This was accepted by Detective Garda Hourihane.
Detective Garda Ivan Muldoon said after receiving information that the car had been bought “very cheaply” he made further inquiries. He went to Newcastle West to try to locate the vehicle and found it in Temple Green. He set up an observation and followed Mr Quilligan in the car to O’Rourke’s Cross in Bruree.
“We approached him and informed him who we were. He stated he bought the car on Done Deal at a knockdown price. I told him we believed the car to be stolen and he made no reply,” said Det Garda Muldoon.
During a later garda interview Mr Quilligan said he was reckless in how he bought the car.
“If I could do it again I would be more careful,” Mr Quilligan told gardai.
He said “no comment” when gardai asked him about the false number plates on the car and the serial number on the corner of the windscreen being covered with plastic.
Mr Herbert said his client paid “good money” for the car – €8,000.
“He bought the car on a public forum, brought it to Limerick, parked it outside his front door and got its history checked. He wasn’t afraid to let people know – he put it back on a public forum for all to see.
“He was handed the log book and NCT certificate related to the car registration. He took things at face value. He honestly believed he was the owner of the car,” said Mr Herbert.
Inspector Luke Conlon said Mr Quilligan is experienced in buying cars. “Any right-thinking person would do checks before buying a car. He did the car check after buying it. There was a false tag over the chassis number. If he was experienced he would have spotted that,” said Insp Conlon.
In dismissing the case, Judge Marian O’Leary said she had to “have a doubt”.
“I don’t believe the State has proven to me that he did not believe he had reasonable grounds,” said Judge O’Leary.