Saskatchewan rancher pleads guilty over stolen ag equipment

Missing equipment found on a rural property southwest of Saskatoon in 2016 was valued at over $1.2 million. (Photo courtesy Saskatoon RCMP)

A western Saskatchewan cattle rancher has pled guilty on 18 charges over the discovery last year of tractors, balers and other farm equipment reported missing in the region, according to Saskatoon media.

Iain Stables, 39, of the RM of Montrose entered guilty pleas in Provincial Court in Saskatoon Monday on 17 counts of possession of stolen property over $5,000 plus a count of motor vehicle theft, according to Saskatoon’s StarPhoenix newspaper.

Stables hasn’t yet been sentenced on those counts, StarPhoenix writer Bre McAdam reported Monday, adding that the case has been set over to Sept. 25.

The newspaper reported the case has been proceeding through the Provincial Court’s mental health strategy (MHS) court in Saskatoon.

According to the Provincial Court website, individuals accused of crimes can be referred to the MHS court through a Crown prosecutor if they appear to have “issues related to mental health, such as cognitive disability, FASD, brain damage or psychiatric disorder.”

People charged with offences where the Crown seeks a penitentiary term are not eligible for the MHS approach, the court said.

Charges originally laid against Stables last year 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.

The machinery RCMP reported as 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 in question has been reported as stolen from both “citizens and dealerships” across western Saskatchewan, including the Saskatoon, Rosetown, Biggar and Outlook areas, RCMP said in February last year.

Stables and his family operate Isla Bank Angus in Montrose, about 50 km southwest of Saskatoon.

The operation, which has been in the Stables family for three generations but moved in 2011 from its original site near Delisle, received a 75-year Heritage Award from the Canadian Angus Association in 2014.

Stables and his wife were on the cover of Country Guide in 2015 (“The new ranch,” March 17, 2015, pgs. 32-34) in a profile of Isla Bank as a start-up cattle operation in the 21st century. — Network

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