A disgruntled son-in-law who raided his father-in-law’s business premises and stole machinery worth £110,000 has been jailed for 21 months.
Alexander Ferguson, 51, targeted premises belonging to his then-wife’s dad, businessman Brian MacGregor.
It happened more than five years ago in August 2018, when Ferguson made off with the expensive equipment that included tractors, forklifts and dumper trucks.
On the day that he targeted the Moy Moss yard near Dalmagarry, Ferguson sent voice notes to his own father.
The communications included one audio message that said: “I’ve got five low loaders sitting here the now. I am f****** emptying his f****** place”.
Ferguson appeared for sentencing at Inverness Sheriff Court, having previously admitted a charge of theft by opening a lockfast place.
Seized mobile phones implicated Alexander Ferguson in machinery theft
At the earlier hearing, fiscal depute Robert Weir told the court that Ferguson and Mr MacGregor had previously worked together in business for a number of years, although there was no formal arrangement.
Mr Weir said that Mr MacGregor had received a phone call from an employee, notifying him of the theft and the police were then contacted.
“Mr MacGregor thereafter made his own enquiries into the incident and apprised the police of the information.
“He identified parties involved in transporting and the recipient of some of the vehicles who in turn implicated the accused as being responsible,” Mr Weir explained.
The prosecutor added that after Ferguson’s arrest, his mobile phones were seized and analysis of them revealed audio files implicating him in the thefts.
Mr Weir said that one was to his father on the day of the theft.
It said: “Right, I know I can trust you to keep your mooth [sic] shut, right? Never mention this. I’ve got five low loaders sitting here the now. I am f****** emptying his f****** place.”
Mr MacGregor valued the stolen property at £110,000.
All of it was recovered, except for one vehicle valued at £15,000.
At Ferguson’s sentencing, his defence counsel Pauline Baillie told the court that her client had said he was waiting for an inheritance, which would provide the funds to compensate Mr MacGregor for his loss.
This had not been confirmed prior to the case calling, she said.
‘He took matters into his own hands’
Ms Baillie added: “There was a business relationship between him and his father-in-law and the businesses were combined.
“Then he got a message from his former father-in-law to say he was no longer involved.”
“There was significant value in what his input was to the company but as there was no formal agreement, there was no formal way he could be compensated and he took matters into his own hands.”
Sheriff Cruickshank told Ferguson, of Broad Street, Glasgow: “There is some kind of explanation for this about a business venture but I have to say I am none the wiser about what it was.
“I have asked previously for information about compensation and yet again there is none before me.
“You did steal £110,000 of machinery and there is only one disposal for that which is a custodial sentence.”
Ferguson was sent to prison for 21 months.
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