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Men jailed for copper theft

Canterbury Crown Court
Canterbury Crown Court

Four men including one from Aylesham have been jailed for their part in a plot to steal a German lorry and its load of scrap copper.

One of them, Thomas Spain, faked a heart attack on the A2 and was taken to Kent and Canterbury Hospital.

While he was away his abandoned lorry was taken by his co-conspirators. Paramedics subsequently could find nothing wrong with him.

At Canterbury Crown Court, all four men were charged with conspiracy to steal.

Spain, 50, of St Francis Road, Folkestone, was jailed for 18 months.

His nephew Andrew Jones, of Kings Road, Aylesham, was jailed for 12 months; Rodney Stacey, 33 from of Hamilton Road, Deal, for 18 months; and Trevor Coates 35, of Beckets Close, Hastingleigh, also for 18 months.

A fifth man Carl Martin, 48, of Bassett Road, Sittingbourne, was found not guilty of one count of conspiracy to steal and one count of theft.

On March 4, 2008, Spain was driving the lorry with 18 tonnes of metal from the UK to Belgium. Just outside Canterbury on the A2, he called emergency services complaining of chest pains and was taken by ambulance to Kent and Canterbury Hospital.

While he was being treated, the lorry and its cargo, worth a total of £165,000, was stolen from the lay-by.

Officers from Kent Police’s Serious Organised Crime Unit launched an investigation. At 4.45pm on the day of the reported theft, officers attended LKM Metals in Symmonds Drive, Sittingbourne, after the scrap metal yard owner became suspicious

The lorry was found in the yard, about to be unloaded. The driver, Jones, was arrested.

Also in the yard were two other vehicles, a Vauxhall Corsa van and a Toyota MR2. Their drivers, Coates and Stacey, were helping to unload the lorry and its load and were also arrested.

Both Det Con Christopher D’Ardenne and Det Con James Unwin were commended by Judge Nigel van der Bijl for their professionalism in the investigation.

After the case Det Insp Martin Lyddon said: “This was a meticulous investigation for which our detective team has been acknowledged by the court. Kent Police takes metal theft seriously and will take action no matter how large or small the crime.”

Head of CPS south east complex casework unit, Nigel Pilkington, said: “Each defendant played his part in the conspiracy and all worked together to make the plan a reality thinking that it would net them a substantial profit.”

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