Melton pair jailed for involvement in car cloning enterprise

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Two Melton men have been jailed after admitting their roles in disposing of stolen cars worth £300,000.

Anthony Allan and Christopher Cooper were involved in moving stolen vehicles to the East Midlands where they were cloned and then sold on.

A third man, Richard Whitfield (32), of The Grove, Grantham, also admitted his involvement in the criminal enterprise.

All three, who admitted a charge of conspiracy to handle stolen goods on dates between June and August 2014,

were sentenced yesterday (Thursday, January 8) at Lincoln Crown Court.

Stephen Lowne, prosecuting, said that cars stolen in the London area, Sheffield and Leicestershire had their identities changed with false number plates before being sold to unsuspecting customers.

Allan (35), of Nottingham Road, Melton, was jailed for three years and Cooper (36), of Rudbeck Avenue, received an 18-month sentence. Whitfield was jailed for four years.

Judge Michael Heath, passing sentence, told them: “This has been a large enterprise involving organised crime in the stealing of high value vehicles.

“A number of those vehicles were brought north to the East Midlands where they were cloned and sold. All of you played an important part in the disposal of various vehicles.”

Neil Sands, defending Allan, said his active involvement was for just four weeks during which time he was involved in the disposal of five cars.

Mr Sands said: “He had been making an effort through legitimate employment to put his life back on track. Matters appeared to be going in the right direction but then his relationship fell apart. He was no longer able to live with his partner in Grantham and moved to his mother’s address. He was then not able to continue with his work.

“He understands this is a serious matter and he apologises unreservedly to those who were caught up in this.”

Robin Howat, for Cooper, said he acted as a driver travelling to London to bring back vehicles to Leicestershire.

Mr Howat said: “He left the keys on the rear tyre where they were then picked up by other people. For very small amounts of money he has got himself involved in this conspiracy.”

Christopher Swistak, defending Whitfield, said “He accepts he was up to no good. He regrets greatly getting involved in this. He was in a position where things were picking up and it’s a big disappointment for his partner that he has placed himself in this position.”