Oswestry steel troughs thefts included in list of items as gang jailed

THREE men involved in stealing machinery and other property worth more than GBP100,000 across rural North Wales and elsewhere were jailed by a judge who said it was “stolen to order.” Richard Evans, 43, of Arfryn, Southsea, Wrexham, described as a gifted footballer who managed a football team, was jailed for 39 months, with Judge Niclas Parry describing him as the plot’s ‘ringleader’ at Caernarfon Crown Court. Shane Jones, 30, of Hywelfa, Wrexham, was jailed for 28 months for his lesser involvement while John Price, 29, of a caravan site in Lodge Road, Telford, involved in two incidents, was sent to prison for two years.

Judge Parry said: “You have admitted your parts in what was nothing less than a professional, sophisticated, well-planned conspiracy targeting the remote agricultural industry. “It was aimed deliberately at the theft of extremely high-value goods. “I have little doubt that these were goods stolen to order for customers ready to receive what had been taken.

There were elements of sophistication, registration plates had been removed.” The judge said it was so profitable that Evans had been paying GBP300 a month for a unit to store stolen property, and the offence was aggravated by the effect on the agricultural community. “We have heard the severe financial effect upon the individuals who are the victims,” Judge Parry added.

Prosecuting counsel John Philpotts said the trio admitted a conspiracy to steal machinery between October 2017 and November 2018. A tractor and cutter had been stolen from Bala. Mr Philpotts said an Iveco truck and an Audi car had been travelling in convoy.

Three ornamental stone troughs worth GBP1,500 vanished at Oswestry, steel from Bangor-on-Dee, machinery which would cost GBP100,000 to replace from Broxton in Cheshire, a trailer from Denbigh,a GBP14,000 digger at Corwen, and another trailer from Bala. Police found the steel, a trailer and troughs during a search in September 2018. But a GBP5,000 quad bike was then stolen at Machynlleth; Mr Philpotts said it had a tracking device and this led police to Jones’s property and a van.

Andrew Green, defending Evans, said: “His biggest regret now are the implications for his family. He has a wife, they have five children. There clearly is a very different side to Ricky Evans,” the barrister said.

John Hedgecoe, counsel for Jones, said he was hardworking. “He’s keen to make a fresh start to provide for his family,” counsel declared.

Jemma Gordon, for Price, said he was involved in two out of eight thefts.

He worked for a scaffolding firm and there were financial reasons for his behaviour.

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