Thornton man jailed for selling stolen machinery

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Anthony Gribbin Anthony Gribbin

A businessman who “deviously and deliberately” sold on more than £200,000 of stolen farming and construction machinery has been jailed for three years.

Anthony Gribbin, who owned historic Leaventhorpe Hall in Thornton, Bradford, was now a ruined man whose “breathtaking fall from grace” was caused by love and money, Bradford Crown Court heard.

Gribbin stood in the dock yesterday afternoon to hear Judge John Potter say that “greed and an avaricious nature” played a part in his downfall.

The 32-year-old pleaded guilty last September to seven offences of dishonestly handling farm and building vehicles, including John Deere tractors, a mini digger, tele-handlers and a feeder machine, valued at more than £213,000 between July 16, 2009, and November 5, 2009.

While on court bail awaiting sentence, he recruited an employee, Jonathan Nunn, into a fraudulent bid to sell two hired machines.

Gribbin and Nunn, 26, of Thornton Road, Bradford, admitted making a false representation that the dumper truck and tele-handler, together valued at £19,000, were available for sale, between October 31 and November 6 last year The judge told Gribbin, of previous good character, the further offence was “a flagrant breach of your bail”.

“It was a breathtaking piece of dishonesty on any view,” he said.

Nunn, also of previous good character, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with 250 hours’ of unpaid work.

Judge Potter said he was “easily led by a more sophisticated criminal”.

Prosecutor Gerald Hendron said Gribbin knowingly sold on vehicles and plant equipment stolen from farms across the region.

Dealers, including David Hinds, bought them in good faith and traded them on.

The stolen vehicles included a tractor and trailer owned by Eldwick farmer John Hobson that vanished overnight when thieves drove it through a barbed wire fence on to the road.

Mr Hinds was conned by Gribbin into buying the vehicles and they were sold on to a farm in Derbyshire.

When a furious Mr Hinds confronted Gribbin, he pretended to be “surprised and shocked”.

When Gribbin and Nunn were arrested in November, police seized their phones. A text from Gribbin to Nunn read: “If anything goes wrong next week, you’ll need the money.”

In mitigation Gribbin’s barrister, Rodney Jameson QC, handed in letters from a magistrate and Bradford Councillor Val Binney (Con, Thornton and Allerton).

“They are absolutely astonished at the turn Mr Gribbin’s life has taken,” Mr Jameson said.

Mr Jameson told the court Gribbin “loved not wisely but too well” and was in a bad way financially.

He was besotted with his partner, the mother of his two children, and wanted to provide her with everything.

“When the going got rough she left him and took the children with her,” Mr Jameson said. “He thought he could make the world everything he wanted. He overstretched himself both financially and emotionally.”

Gribbin was probably about to be made bankrupt. His good reputation was gone and his health had suffered.

“He is ruined. Everything he has tried to make a go of is going to be taken away in financial proceedings,” Mr Jameson said.

But Judge Potter told Gribbin: “You deviously and deliberately organised the disposal of these items.”

The sales were accompanied by “a tissue of lies” and Gribbin went on to lie to the police. “The farming community is significantly undermined by this type of dishonesty,” the judge added.

Judge Potter ruled that Gribbin’s criminal benefit was £120,000 and his assets for confiscation, £17,750.

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