An eBay crook was caught out after a burglary victim tracked down his stolen bike and lured him into a trap.
The Brighouse victim turned amateur sleuth and tracked down Dale Murphy, 28, who was trying to sell the Lapierre Zesty 514 mountain bike online.
But Murphy ended up being charged with handling stolen goods and producing cannabis, after unwittingly leading the police to his door.
Prosecutor Isobel Thomas told Manchester Crown Court that after the victim’s bicycle was stolen from his workplace in Brighouse, in March last year, he started looking on the internet to see if he could find it.
On June 8, the 47-year-old man tracked it down to online auction site eBay, and enlisted a friend to offer the seller £1,000. The seller failed to respond to these messages, prompting the victim to bid for it himself.
He won the auction with a bid of £882 on June 11, and the following day was contacted by Murphy, who gave him his address at Acton Avenue, Newton Heath, to come and collect the bike.
The victim instead handed the address to police. Officers found the door of Murphy’s home wide open, and the bike propped against the living room wall. In an upstairs bedroom they found a cannabis farm with a potential £3,500 yield, fed by the looped electricity meter.
Murphy later admitted handling stolen goods, producing cannabis and abstracting electricity.
Kirsten Beswick, defending, told Murphy’s Manchester Crown Court sentencing hearing: “Mr Murphy has real difficulties in terms of his thought process. He’s got himself in difficulties with regard to some gambling debts - he sees the adverts where he’s told he can make lots of money this way and believes it. Because he’s run up debts he’s borrowed from people it’s not wise to borrow from. They finally have suggested ways he could pay off his debt.”
Sentencing Murphy to eight months in prison, suspended for two years with a thirty day rehabilitation requirement, Recorder Michael Duck QC told him: “You are a fortunate man, it’s a suspended sentence order designed to be productive and keep you out of trouble. If you fail to adhere to that order you will almost certainly serve the sentence. The choice is yours - if you keep yourself out of trouble then you will hear no more about it.”