Sask. rancher pleads guilty to possessing stolen machines

A Saskatchewan rancher has pleaded guilty to multiple charges of possessing stolen property, including numerous pieces of farm machinery that disappeared from farms and equipment dealerships.

Iain Stables, 39, from Donovan, Sask., was charged with 29 criminal code offences in February 2016.

Those charges included 16 counts of possession of stolen property over $5,000, seven counts of theft over $5,000, five counts of theft of a motor vehicle and one count of break, enter and theft.

On Aug. 28, Stables pleaded guilty to 18 charges.

Sentencing is scheduled to take place Sept. 25 in Saskatoon.

Stables’ case has slowly been working its way through the provincial court system over the past year and a half.

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Legal counsel representing Stables told a provincial court judge earlier this year that the accused was receiving mental health assessments, which could affect the outcome of his court proceedings.

Stables’ case was included on a mental health strategy docket at provincial court in Saskatoon.

Following a police investigation in 2015 and 2016, a total of 16 machines were recovered at two locations in Saskatchewan, including five John Deere tractors, two balers, two John Deere Gators, two Dodge trucks, trailers, a mower and various other items.

The machinery recovered was valued at more than $1.2 million.

All but one of the machines was recovered in the Donovan area, about an hour’s drive southwest of Saskatoon.

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One other tractor was located on a farm between Prince Albert and Melfort.

Police investigator Const. William Groenen said last year that the investigation began when members of the public came forward with information about equipment that had gone missing from various locations in central Saskatchewan.

The majority of the machinery that was recovered disappeared from farm machinery dealerships in Rosthern, Rosetown, Outlook, Biggar and Saskatoon.

“The majority of it was from dealerships … and not from private residences,” Groenen said.

Charges against Stables were laid after police executed a search warrant in the Rural Municipality of Montrose near Donovan Feb. 11.

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Contact brian.cross@producer.com