Norfolk garage owner supplied false plates to gang that burgled 200 premises, court hears
PUBLISHED: 22:12 16 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:50 17 October 2018
Archant Norfolk 2018
A Norfolk garage owner supplied false number plates for a "prolific" regional gang who burgled more than 200 homes, Norwich Crown Court heard.
Simon Oakley, who owns Stratton Quickfit in Long Stratton, is one of four men who went on trial today (October 16) in connection with the break-ins.
They are accused of being part of a sophisticated criminal enterprise which saw more than £2m-worth of property stolen between February and December 2017 - including high-performance cars, cash and jewellery.
Oakley, 45, of Alburgh Road, Hempnall, is accused of conspiracy to commit burglary.
Prosecutor William Carter said he supplied false number plates for stolen vehicles used by the gang.
He described Oakley, who denies the charge against him, as an “integral part” of the conspiracy.
Also standing trial is:
• Ammir Kohanzad, 68, of Ingestre Road, Calver, London.
• James Pateman, 55, of Wollens Brook, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire.
• Thomas Pateman, 54, of Fen Road, Chesterton, Cambridgeshire.
The three men are charged with handling stolen goods, which they all deny.
Mr Carter said: “The case involves a criminal gang, a prolific criminal gang operating from February to December 2017.
“Over that period the gang was responsible for many, many burglaries. There were over 200 in fact.
“There were a large number of associated offences, for example the stealing of motor vehicles in order to commit burglary.
“Most offences were the burglary of homes. They took place over Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. It was a wide ranging operation.”
Mr Carter said businesses with ATMs inside were also targeted.
“You will hear that one of the features of this was the use of high powered vehicles, largely driven on false number plates,” Mr Carter added.
“We know there was a criminal conspiracy operation because those involved have pleaded guilty.
“The prosecution do not say he [Oakley] was actually present at any burglary, that was not his role.
“He provided assistance in other ways.”
Mr Carter said Oakley provided assistance with cars used by the gang and an outlet for stolen property.
The court heard how Thomas Pateman ran a business in Cambridgeshire which buys and sells precious metals.
Mr Carter said Pateman’s brother, James, also deals in precious metals, while Kohanzad owns Danesh International Jewellery in Hatton Garden, London.
“They, the prosecution say have provided outlets for stolen property,” Mr Carter added.
“They [burglars] need people they can go to with the stolen property, who are prepared to take it off their hands for money.”
Mr Carter said police raided Oakley’s home and business on January 9, 2018.
He told the jury that officers found a Volkswagen Golf at his house which had false number plates.
It later transpired that the vehicle had been stolen from a property in St Ives on June 21, 2017.
The court heard how Oakley’s business had equipment designed to print licence plates.
Mr Carter said when officers checked the printing machine, they found a “very large number” of plates which they knew had been used for vehicles involved in burglaries.
The court heard how the gang would take high-end vehicles from homes, change the number plates, and then use them for other crimes.
Mr Carter said that on February 6 a black Audi RS4 was stolen from Spalding in Lincolnshire.
Two days later, Oakley received a text message containing a number plate from a man called Timothy Stone-Parker.
Mr Carter told the jury Stone-Parker had already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle.
“It does beg a number of questions,” he said. “It may be that there is a perfectly innocent explanation for this, but simply texting a number plate does tend to suggest that no other information was needed at that time as far as Mr Oakley was concerned.”
Mr Carter told the jury that Oakley’s phone records showed he was contacted by other individuals who had already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burglary.
He said when Oakley was interviewed by police, he told officers he did not know everyone he was making number plates for or “what they were doing with them”.
The trial continues.