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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Prison term for Cumbrian man who carried out scrap metal fraud

A man who helped mastermind a scrap metal fraud has been jailed for nine months.

Carlisle Crown Court heard how Carl Piercy, 22, posed as a legitimate rail company worker so that valuable scrap rails could be stolen from a depot near the city.

Prosecutor Alan Lovett told the court how Piercy had enlisted the help of a friend who agreed to forge a letter which claimed they had authority from a rail contracting company to sell the metal to a west Cumbrian scrap yard.

Mr Lovett said Piercy and another man – not the co-defendant – had agreed to split the £5,000 they would make from selling the scrap.

The scam led to the arrest of some of the workmen who unwittingly became involved in collecting the metal in February of last year when police caught them at the Network Rail depot near Carlisle.

Piercy, of Charlotte Street, Denton Holme, Carlisle, initially denied doing anything wrong but police searched his home and found the high-visibility clothing which he used to make himself seem like an authentic rail worker.

He confirmed that his friend, Tony Cowan, 21, helped by producing the letter of authorisation for the scrap dealer they were taking the metal to.

Piercy admitted two counts of fraud by making a false representation – one in January last year and a second one in February, when British Transport police intervened.

He also admitted acquiring criminal property – his £2,500 cut from the sale of stolen scrap metal rails.

Cowan admitted a single count of making a false instrument by forging the authorisation letter.

Keith Thomas, for Piercy, said his client had used his profit from the first fraud to pay off family debts. He also told police the men sent to collect the metal were innocent.

Passing sentence, Judge Paul Batty QC told Piercy that he had played a “significant role” in the fraud.

Imposing the jail term, he told the defendant: “You involved yourself in a sophisticated fraud, whereby you effectively duped innocent people by passing yourself off as an employee of Quattro Rail.... your fraud caused innocent people to be arrested by the police and they doubtless spent short periods in custody.”

The judge said he was satisfied that Cowan, of Friar’s Road, Penrith, became involved because his friend approached him.

He was given a 12 month community order, 200 hours unpaid work and an order to pay £250 prosecution costs.

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