Managers and staff of a scrap metal recycling company have been found not guilty of attempting to handle or dishonestly receiving stolen goods, after two police raids of the company site and seizures of just under £70,000 from the company director’s house.
Charges were brought against Wagstaff Recycling, based in Yorkshire, in October 2012.
The company went into liquidation shortly afterwards in November 2012. Wagstaff Total Waste Management - a subsidiary of Wagstaff Recyling - carried on trading.
Dave Riley, Wagstaff Total Waste Management general manager, claimed that the company went into liquidation as a result of the two cash seizures and raids that failed to find any stolen metal.
The BTP brought a case against six members of Wagstaff Recycling, but they were all found not guilty at Leeds Crown Court on 20 September 2013.
Riley said: “We are a legitimate business and on the back of what’s gone on we’ve had bad press round the area.
“We have said all along we are not guilty. They raided us twice and didn’t find anything, seized large amounts of money from the director’s house which was standby cash for when we were paying for scrap by cash.”
The company’s insurance only allowed for £5,000 on site, according to Riley.
The raids occurred before the introduction of the cash ban, which has made it illegal for scrap dealers to pay for scrap metal with cash since 3 December 2012.
Riley also claimed that the BTP attempted to sell Wagstaff Recycling stolen metal through reverse test purchases but the firm did not buy it.
An email to the firm from a BTP officer at the time, seen by MRW, stated: “I appreciate it is very difficult for you to determine whether something has been stolen when it is received at your premises.” The BTP said it did not wish to comment on its tactics in this case.
Wagstaff Recycling told MRW that it has filed a formal complaint about the handling of the case to the Professional Standards Bureau at York.
A BTP spokesman said the searches were authorised by a warrant and added: “We conducted a full and thorough investigation and passed a file of our findings to the Crown Prosecution Service, which they deemed provided sufficient evidence to warrant prosecution, following which a number of charges were authorised.”
In June 2012, British Transport Police (BTP) said that a crackdown of scrap metal theft would benefit legitimate dealers and that it “did not want to interfere with legitimate business.”
The BTP added: “BTP will continue to work with partner agencies, other police forces, and the scrap metal industry to take decisive action in relation to metal theft offences.”