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At-large tractor fraudster caught after Crimewatch appeal has jail term extended

David Lukac

A FRAUDSTER caught by police after a BBC Crimewatch appeal has had his jail sentence extended by a judge for failing to attend court for both his trial and sentencing hearing.

David Lukac, 27, was one of two men who duped a foreign farmer during a sophisticated £18,000 cross-border swindle which concluded in Cumbria during June, 2016.

The unsuspecting victim was lured from his native Slovakia to Ravenstondale, near Kirkby Stephen, on the promise of buying an almost half-price tractor he ultimately never received. The farmer had flown on a one-way ticket to England and was driven to a tractor dealership by Lukac and partner-in-crime Juraj Szajko.

After a complicated translation exchange at the innocent business’s premises, the farmer was then driven to a bank. There, Szajko loitered as Lukac accompanied their unsuspected victim to a counter where he was duped into transferring £17,800 into what he believed was the tractor seller’s account.

Fortunately the farmer’s money was held by the bank, earmarked for return and he was able to return home with help from the Slovakian embassy. But the offence was said to have had a significant impact on his business, personal life and wellbeing.

Szajko, 38, of Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, later admitted fraud and received a suspended prison sentence. But Lukac, latterly of Broad Street, Parkgate, Rotherham, failed to attend court, was found guilty after a trial held in his absence and, as he remained at large, was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment.

Police called on the public’s help to trace Lukac, who was caught in September days after an appeal was broadcast on the BBC’s Crimewatch Roadshow. He is now behind bars serving the jail term.

Lukac appeared at Carlisle Crown Court over a video link this morning (THURS), and admitted failing to surrender on bail on an earlier occasion, causing a delay to the criminal proceedings.

Often emotional, he told Judge Julie Clemitson he was “sorry for everything”. “I wasn’t working and I didn’t have any money,” said the father of three Slovakia-based young children. “Because of that there was nobody available to being me to court. They asked for too much money.”

Lukac was eventually tracked down after police learned he was working and registered. “I would like to apologise for everything I committed,” he added. “This is the first time I have committed it, and this is the last time as well. I just want to get back and see my children.”

Judge Clemitson gave Lukac a consecutive four-week jail term for failing to attend court. “That means four weeks will be added to the term you are already serving,” she told him.

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