A sheep farmer who fleeced his girlfriend by selling her car and looting a bank account avoids jail


A sheep farmer who fleeced his partner has escaped prison again after complaining that his parents’ farm was suffering.

Eith Crawford was already on probation and going through a separate fraud case when he stole thousands of pounds from his then-partner’s bank account.

The scammer from Kinmeen Road, Derrylin, Co Fermanagh also sold her car and kept the proceeds and then wrote checks that were cashed back to ‘pay her back’.

But it’s fair to say that the 46-year-old has been telling “vague” stories for over 15 years and has more than 50 prior convictions, mostly for fraud and traffic offences.

He once “fleeced” a farmer when he agreed to pay £51,800 (€62,000) for 370 sheep – but first refused to pay and then wrote bogus checks, which bounced.

That was in 2017 and once again he escaped prison by claiming in court that his parents’ farm would suffer if he went to prison.

A judge even told him this week during his latest fraud case, “The only conclusion that can be drawn from this is that for many years of your adult life you seem to have felt free to treat other people’s money as your own.”

As early as 2009, a judge in Co Cavan banned him from ever keeping cattle in the south again.

At the time, Crawford, whose farm straddles the Fermanagh-Cavan border, was convicted of failing to register, birth record, tag or test animals, contrary to cattle regulations.

He was also convicted of failing to dispose of animal carcasses in breach of EU and Irish law.

An inspector from Ireland’s Department of Agriculture told the court at the time that such activities posed an enormous threat to the entire livestock fabric of the republic.

But Crawford, who despite his list of convictions has never been photographed before, was surprised when we finally located him.

We asked him if he would like to apologize for stealing from his own partner or if he would like to explain what drove him to commit repeated criminal acts that have pulled many people out of pocket.

But a gruff Crawford showed little remorse, saying: “What’s the point? Why do you want to write about this case? I have nothing to say to you.”

Earlier in the week, Dungannon Crown Court heard how, between June 2016 and September 2017, Crawford dishonestly used his partner’s bank details and presented a check that could not be paid due to insufficient funds.

He also produced a check for £5,000 (€5,900) from a closed account and stole £2,500 (€2,950) from the victim.

Crawford initially pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, but on the morning the trial was due to begin, he accepted a number of charges while dropping the rest.

The court heard he was in a relationship with the victim for about three years, during which she noticed money was missing from her bank account.

As he approached Crawford, he convinced her it was a mistake and he would pay the money back.

When the relationship ended, the victim discovered that he had stolen more than £6,000 and that Crawford had noted down her bank details and used them fraudulently on a number of occasions.

He returned her a check for £5,000 (€5,900) but it bounced as the bank account had been closed.

He also sold their vehicle and kept the proceeds.

While the assumption of immediate detention would be detrimental to Crawford’s management of his parents’ farm and business, Brian Sherrard QC warned: “You are in an extremely dangerous situation. The court considers not only the financial impact on the victim, but also the emotional damage.”

Given the “compelling difficulties that would arise” if the defendant were to be imprisoned, Judge Sherrard imposed an 18-month sentence, which he wanted to stay for three years.

Compensation totaling £8,600 (€10,300) is payable to the victim within 28 days. A sheep farmer who fleeced his girlfriend by selling her car and looting a bank account avoids jail

Fry Electronics Team

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