A Banbury scrap dealer has today (Wednesday) been convicted of attempting to disguise, convey or conceal criminal property.
On March 25 this year, Joseph Smith, 24, of Milton Road, Adderbury, pleaded not guilty to six counts. But today an Oxford Crown Court jury convicted him of four of those counts.
The convictions relate to Smith’s agreement to buy lengths of stripped copper cable from undercover police officers known as Andy and Kinger, who visited the Smiths of Bloxham scrap yard some 33 times between December 2011 and May 2012 as part of a force-wide crackdown on scrap metal theft.
On May 1, 9 and 15 Smith purchased lengths of cable, on each occasion weighing them before issuing an invoice for payment.
Then on May 15 he was involved in the purchase of a Mitsubishi FTO vehicle and more lengths of copper cable.
None of the offered goods were stolen but the prosecution alleged Smith knew or believed them to be so.
Defending Smith, Justin Houghton-Roberts said the goods sold to him were not in fact stolen so he had been unfairly and repeatedly “tricked” as the police returned to the yard “again and again”.
He said: “The plan was to put an idea into the minds of an honest citizen and then prosecute them for having an idea.”
He said the Smiths contacted Banbury police on May 15 asking them to take a look at the Mitsubishi vehicle which was found not to be stolen, and issued “traceable numbered receipts” for each of the lengths of cable purchased.
John Law, prosecuting, said Andy and Kinger told Smith the car was “nicked from Wales”, to which he replied: “You’re getting worse and worse you two”.
No photographic identification or registration documents required by law were sought in relation to the vehicle, he said, and on no occasion did Smith ask where the lengths of cable had come from or whether they were stolen.
The jury is still deliberating two further counts against Joey Smith. His brother Tommy, 36, of Milton Road, Adderbury is also on trial for one count of the same charge on which the jury is yet to reach a verdict.