Scrap sting boss guilty

NEW RULES ... intended to make it more difficult for criminals to trade in stolen metal.
NEW RULES ... intended to make it more difficult for criminals to trade in stolen metal.

The boss of a multi-million pound scrap metal business has been sentenced after being caught up in a police sting targeting metal theft.

Wayne Griffiths, 45, the owner of Arthur Brook Ltd of Ravensthorpe, admitted attempting to handle stolen goods, some BT cable and a manhole cover.

Prosecutor Dave MacKay told how the Yorkshire and The Humber was one of the worst affected areas in the UK for metal theft.

Leeds Crown Court heard how Operation Galton, which involves undercover officers conducting test purchases at scrap yards, was set up.

Covert officers would attend scrap yards and built up a rapport by legitimate trading. But they would later return with BT cable, which traders had been warned against receiving, and would try and weigh it in.

Mr MacKay told how officers went to Arthur Brook’s yard three times last summer. Some 655kg of scrap was weighed in, 470kg of it was BT equipment, worth £256.

The court heard the under cover officers identified themselves as BT contractors who simply didn’t want to take the cable to the authorised yard in Northallerton.

Griffiths was arrested on October 8. The court heard how his wife was arrested publicly in the hairdressers and was held in custody for half-a-day before being released.

Jamie Hill QC, mitigating, said: “His wife hasn’t been able to cope with the situation, the way she was dealt with initially. She is now applying for divorce, although he doesn’t want it to.”

The court heard Griffiths had no previous convictions or cautions. He accepted responsibility for the case rather than some of his staff continuing to be prosecuted.

Mr Hill said there had been many occasions when his client had turned pick up trucks touting cable away from his yard, but on this occasion he had erred after being given a sob story about them not wanting to make the 120-mile round trip to the authorised yard.

He added: “There wasn’t any financial incentive to him or his employees.

“This is a yard with a multi-million pound turnover and a couple of hundred pounds of BT wire is neither here nor there in the scheme of things.”

Judge Christopher Batty, passing sentence, said dealers should just simply say ‘no’ to such cable and then there wouldn’t be a market for it.

He added: “If there isn’t a market then the operation has achieved it’s objective because no one will take it any more.”

The court heard there has been a 45 per cent reduction in metal thefts in West Yorkshire since Operation Galton commenced.

Griffiths,of Brandy Carr Lane, Wakefield, was jailed for four months but the sentence was suspended for 12 months. He must also complete 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,800 costs.