No prison for Saskatchewan rancher over stolen farm equipment

A western Saskatchewan rancher who pleaded guilty in August to charges over the discovery last year of missing tractors, balers and other farm equipment will serve time outside the prison system, Saskatoon media reported Friday.

Iain Stables, now 40, was sentenced Friday in Provincial Court in Saskatoon to a conditional term of two years less a day, to be served in the community, followed by another three years of probation, CBC Saskatoon’s Dan Zakreski reported.

The terms of a joint submission by prosecution and defence lawyers also call for Stables to pay $111,000 in restitution to victims including two dealerships and two people who bought some of the equipment from Stables, CBC and Saskatoon’s StarPhoenix newspaper reported.

Charges originally laid against Stables in February last year had included 16 counts of possession of stolen property over $5,000, seven counts of theft over $5,000, five counts of motor vehicle theft and one count of break, enter and theft, RCMP said at the time.

His guilty plea this summer covered 17 counts of possession of stolen property over $5,000 plus a count of motor vehicle theft, the StarPhoenix reported in August.

The machinery RCMP recovered last year from a property near Donavon in the RM of Montrose included five John Deere farm tractors, two Deere hay balers, two Deere Gator side-by-sides, two Dodge trucks, a Haybuster, a cattle hauler, a car hauler, a mower and a tiller, with a total value “in excess of” $1.2 million.

The machinery was reported as stolen from both “citizens and dealerships” across western Saskatchewan, including the Saskatoon, Rosetown, Biggar and Outlook areas, RCMP said.

Betty Ann Adam of the StarPhoenix on Friday quoted Stables’ wife as saying she had thought the equipment was leased.

Stables and his wife in 2015 appeared on the cover of Country Guide (“The new ranch,” March 17, 2015, pgs. 32-34), in which their operation, Isla Bank Angus, was profiled as a start-up cattle operation in the 21st century.

The Guide at the time quoted the couple as saying they didn’t want to run old equipment and deal with breakdowns, and instead did custom haying to offset the costs of new equipment.

Isla Bank Angus has been in the Stables family for three generations but moved in 2011 from its original site near Delisle. The ranch received a 75-year Heritage Award from the Canadian Angus Association in 2014. — AGCanada.com Network

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