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'WELL ORGANISED AND RUTHLESS': COURT SENTENCES MEN BEHIND £100K STOLEN VEHICLES SCAM

'WELL ORGANISED AND RUTHLESS': COURT SENTENCES MEN BEHIND £100K STOLEN VEHICLES SCAM

Source: http://www.rossendalefreepress.co.uk/news/well-organised-ruthless-court-sentences-11499582

Oliver Young, from Waterfoot, and Ronald Goss, from Haslingden, have been sentenced at Preston Crown Court.

Three men who faked vehicle plates to dupe people into buying stolen plant machinery worth £100,000 have described as ‘well organised and ruthless’.

Oliver Young, 34, of Edgeside Lane, Waterfoot, Ronald Goss, 59, of Dean Road, Haslingden, and Matthew Hartley, 43, of Bacup Road, Cliviger altered the identity of stolen vehicles and then sold them on to ‘innocent purchasers’.

The defendants claimed they had bought the machinery through two men named ‘Irish Jimmy’ and ‘Polish Pete’ and believed they were legitimate.

However police said neither men have been identified or traced.

Goss was jailed for 14 months, Young was handed a 30-week jail sentence suspended for 18 months with 200 hours of unpaid work and Hartley was locked up for 15 months.

Lancashire Police said the convictions come after a ‘long and complex investigation’ into a ‘nationwide operation’ which saw stolen plant machinery and campervans brought into to Rawtenstall and Burnley to be re-identified and sold on.

Officers said the three defendants ‘went to great lengths’ to cover up the original identities of the stolen vehicles, including creating new identification plates using the details of identical vehicles which had been sold out of the country.

The vehicles were then sold to ‘unsuspecting buyers right across the UK’.

Police bosses said the investigation covered the ‘length and breadth of the country’, with a total of 24 stolen vehicles, a motor home and 23 items of plant machinery – later recovered from as far afield as the Isle of Wight and Elgin in the north of Scotland.

The group admitted to handling stolen vehicles worth £100,000 in less than a year-long period, but the total of the vehicles recovered during the investigation is over £500,000.

The investigation began in September 2013 and detectives from the Intelligence Unit and Organised Vehicle Crime Team worked closely with the assistance of both financial and analytical experts.

Officers also worked with external agencies, including The Equipment Register and Datatag, to identify the stolen and cloned plant machinery.

In May 2013 five warrants were executed at addresses across the east of the county, resulting in three arrests and the recovery of ‘incriminating evidence’.

A twelve week trial was initially heard in January 2015 but resulted in a hung jury.

The case was immediately scheduled for retrial in January, this year, and in its second week both Hartley and Young put in early guilty pleas.

Goss continued to deny his guilt, but was found guilty following a trial in February this year.

Lancashire Police said the effect of the gang’s actions on their victim’s have been ‘devastating’.

DC Martyn Leigh said: “These three men have wreaked havoc on innocent peoples’ lives.

“It is no exaggeration to say these crimes have had a devastating impact on some of the victims. One business folded after having stock stolen, a marriage broke up under the strain and several small businesses suffered financial hardship.

“These three men were all of previously good character and ran well-respected, local companies that they used to disguise what they were really up to. In reality, they were well-organised and ruthless criminals.

“This was a complex and time-consuming investigation and the tenacity and perseverance of officers and Crown Prosecution Service lawyers is to be commended.

“We hope this sentence will send out a message that we will not tolerate criminals engaged in highly organised criminality ruining the lives of hard-working, innocent members of the public.”

The recovered vehicles have now been returned and investigations are ongoing to recover money and assets from the three men.

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