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Neil Bradley from Ramsgate denies conspiring to steal £250,000 of tobacco from Augean Sandwich site

By Sean Axtell

A grandfather accused of conspiring to steal £250,000 worth of tobacco claims he accidentally helped a suspect because “it wasn’t a good day.”

Neil Bradley, 47, added he became suspicious an ex-colleague was taking the contraband but continued to disclose its location because he was in mourning.

Bradley, a grandfather of four, denied stealing the tobacco from Sandwich’s East Kent Waste Recovery Facility off River Road, owned by Augean.

Neil Bradley denies conspiring to steal £250,000 worth of tobacco
Neil Bradley denies conspiring to steal £250,000 worth of tobacco

But prosecutor Dominic Connolly told Canterbury Crown Court today Bradley was “well at it” after presenting text conversations with Mark Short.

Short, an ex-colleague, pleaded guilty at a previous hearing and will be sentenced later.

The court heard messages from Short to Bradley read: “Where have you hid all the baccy (sic)?"

It went on: “Anything about tonight?”

Yet Bradley, who had worked on the site for 20 years, claimed his numerous replies detailing the whereabouts of specific tobacco brands were “work related".

The ex-waste mixer added he grew suspicious of Short but continued supplying information after grief muddied his judgement.

Canterbury Crown Court
Canterbury Crown Court

Bradley, of St Augustines Road in Ramsgate, told judge Catherine Brown: “It wasn’t a great day for me anyway because it was the anniversary of my uncle.

“I was unwell at the time, three of my family members died in eight months of cancer.

“I needed counselling.

“It was a mistake.”

Four men have gone on trial accused of stealing up to a quarter of a million pounds worth of tobacco from Augean plc's site, later seized by Border Force.

Judge Catherine Brown
Judge Catherine Brown

Bradley, Grzegorz Sikora, 37 of Northdown Road, Cliftonville; Adrian Love 47 of Grenville Way, Broadstairs; and Adrian Baker, 49, of Bush Avenue, Ramsgate have all denied the conspiracy to steal.

Mr Connolly claimed the alleged scam came to light when hidden tobacco was discovered by officials who set up covert cameras and caught the goods being stolen.

Mr Connolly said on February 18 2017, secret CCTV cameras were installed and when later viewed, revealed Short taking bags through locked gates and placing them into the back of his car.

He said later that month site manager Andy Scorer was inspecting a “seldom used” storage area on site when he discovered a quantity of tobacco.

Short was arrested and his home in Singledge Lane in Whitfield was searched where officers found 30 pouches of Rolling Pouches, which is a foreign duty label, 30 pouches of Turner and 29 pouches of Domingo.

The trial continues.

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