A 22-year-old man was sentenced to six months of house arrest for taking a farm tractor on a 25- kilometre joy ride in a failed bid to get to a party.

Roman Jones had been drinking with a friend in May near the town of Carberry, about 150 kilometres west of Winnipeg, when they came across the tractor and its keys.

They decided to hop on the machine and use it to get to a party in Brandon, some 40 kilometres west, according to Crown prosecutor Joanne Maynard.

'People got too much time on their hands. They're out at night and they get a few beers in them and they start doing silly things.' —Earl Baron

A neighbour noticed the tractor and told Earl Baron, whose son owns it. Baron followed the tracks for some distance but decided to go back and get his four-seater plane to search from the air.

He and his son traced the tractor's path for a few kilometres until the tracks went into a thick, bushy area.

The weather was getting bad so Baron turned the plane around and went back home.

"We really shouldn't have been flying, but we were able to track 'em until … the dense bush and then we lost 'em," Baron said in an interview Thursday.

However, a friend of Baron, who had been following the tracks from the ground, noticed two men covered in mud walking out of the area, about 25 kilometres west of Carberry.

The police were called and the two men arrested. Both were charged with theft over $5,000 and possession of property obtained by crime.

Jones was sentenced Monday. The co-accused in the case, Javen Blair, 19, is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 7.

Tractor stuck in mud

The joyriders abandoned the tractor after it became mired in swampy muck.

There was water and mud up to the axels, according to Baron.

He and his two sons had to use a backhoe to dig away the mud and make a trail to the tractor, then use the backhoe again to dig it out.

'It's part of life these days," he said, lamenting the incident. "You can't even trust your own people in your own town.' —Earl Baron

According to Baron, Jones was shocked to learn whose tractor he had taken.

Jones had worked for Baron during a potato harvest in the past. Baron spoke with his mom after the incident.

Apparently, Jones didn't have all that much experience driving a tractor. Baron said the machine was never shifted out of low gear.

The tractor was not likely moving much quicker than the men could have walked.

A grain vacuum attached to the tractor was dragged behind the whole way, Maynard said. Both it and the tractor sustained a total of nearly $25,000 in damage.

Jones has been ordered to pay $12,906 as part of his sentence.

Baron said he now plans to keep his machinery keys locked away.

"It's part of life these days," he said, lamenting the incident. "You can't even trust your own people in your own town. You have to lock everything up now.

"People got too much time on their hands. They're out at night and they get a few beers in them and they start doing silly things."