Seven men sentenced for £1M construction machine conspiracy
Max Wynn, 34, Richard Wynn, 47, Karl Langley, 44, Alex Grice, 33, Craig Douglas, 41, Gavin Mellor, 53, and Ian Mellor, 72, have been sentenced for their involvement in the handling and sale of 46 stolen construction machines, valued in excess of £1m between 2015 and 2018.
The machines ranging from 1 tonne dumper trucks to 22 tonne excavators, valued between under £10k and over £100k, were stolen across the North West and throughout the UK. There are a number of companies who had more than one machine stolen from them. The vast majority of the machines were "cloned" before being sold on.
On 19 September 2017 Lancashire police executed a search warrant at Max Wynn's rented unit on Lomeshaye Industrial Estate, Nelson. A Kubota digger belonging to an equipment hire company in Blackpool and a Kubota mini excavator were seized, along with genuine and cloned PINs, grinding equipment, sanding pads, stencils, and stamping equipment. The same day the police attended another unit in Clayton-le-Moors where they seized three more stolen machines. As the investigation unfolded, evidence relating to 41 more machines was gathered.
How each man was involved in the conspiracy
Max Wynn and Alex Grice were the directors of a sham business that received stolen machines which were cloned before they were sold on to innocent purchasers. Max Wynn rented a unit where machines were cloned and did some of the cloning himself. He negotiated with purchasers, advertised the machines, arranged for their delivery and employed people to help him in the handling process, including transporting stolen machines and carrying out the cloning work.
Max Wynn laundered the proceeds by transferring money to family, friends and associates, spending it on himself and withdrawing cash to make further purchases. He also had the leading role in the money laundering conspiracy involving Gavin and Ian Mellor, in hiding the illegitimate nature of his business and extracting clean cash for the purchase of further stolen machines. After his unit was raided, he found an alternative way to sell more stolen machines by shipping them to an auction company in Zaragoza, Spain, for them to sell on.
Richard Wynn, Max's brother, was hands-on with the machines, transporting them and delivering them to purchasers.
Alex Grice was a highly trusted employee of Max Wynn, carrying out a variety of jobs, including the mechanical cloning of machines; he received a fee or commission for each machine with which he was involved.
Gavin Mellor acted as Max Wynn's accountant, assisting him with the purchase of the companies that were to be used to sell the stolen machines.
Ian Mellor sold a company to Max Wynn assisting him with the legitimisation of his handling operation. With his son, Gavin, acting as a middleman, he knowingly laundered money from stolen machines to provide Max Wynn with cash to make further purchases.
Craig Douglas was involved with one machine worth approximately £80,000.
Karl Langley was closely connected to Max Wynn and his unit and involved in handling three stolen machines valued over £50,000.
Susan Taylor, Senior Crown Prosecutor for the North West Complex Casework Unit said: "Max Wynn was the driving force behind this million pound criminal organisation and recruited others in order to fund his lavish lifestyle.
"Even when authorities were on to him, he still thought he was unstoppable and brazenly attempted to offload more machines by shipping them out of the country.
"We worked closely with Lancashire police in this complex case to dismantle Wynn's criminal empire and to bring him and all those who assisted him to justice. We will now pursue each man to strip them of their ill-gotten gains from these crimes."
Notes to editors
- Max Wynn pleaded guilty to conspiracy to handle stolen goods, money laundering and converting criminal property – he was sentenced to eight and a half years imprisonment.
- Richard Wynn was found guilty after a trial of conspiracy to handle stolen goods – he was sentenced to eight and a half years imprisonment.
- Alex Grice pleaded guilty during the trial to conspiracy to handle stolen goods – he was sentenced to five years and 11 months imprisonment.
- Gavin Mellor pleaded guilty during the trial to money laundering – he was sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. 240 hours unpaid work. 180 days curfew 8pm to 7am.
- Ian Mellor pleaded guilty during the trial to money laundering – he was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. 60 days curfew 8pm to 7am.
- Craig Douglas pleaded guilty during the trial to handling stolen goods – he was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. 80 hours unpaid work.
- Karl Langley pleaded guilty during the trial to three counts of handling stolen goods – he was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. 120 hours unpaid work.