Scunthorpe Tata Manager sentenced for theft of £233,000

|News, Fraud and economic crime

Mark Elston, a manager for Tata, the international steel manufacturer, has been sentenced to two years, suspended for two years, at Hull Crown Court today (3 May) after pleading guilty to the theft, with an accomplice, of machine bearings worth approximately £233,000. He was additionally ordered to undertake 240 hours’ unpaid work.

Elston (48) pleaded guilty in March 2019 to the theft of the machine bearings from the firm’s Scunthorpe plant, which he managed. His friend and accomplice, Tim Barry (49), pleaded guilty to the same offence in May 2018. He was also sentenced to two years, suspended for two years, and ordered to undertake 180 hours’ unpaid work.

Machine bearings are mechanical components generally used to prevent friction between moving parts of a machine. The stolen bearings were all in imperial sizes, for which there is a lucrative market due to their rarity. Using a sign-in belonging to one of his team, Elston accessed the firm’s computerised stock control system to generate an order number and reserve the bearings, which were then collected by his accomplice, Barry, who sold them on. The defendants agreed to split the proceeds fifty-fifty.

In total, some 660 imperial bearings worth approximately £233,000 were stolen between July 2012 and November 2014, when the defendants were arrested following an in internal investigation.

In an attempt to cover his tracks, Elston disposed of his laptop, reporting it as stolen to the police, and both defendants sought to delete evidence of their phone and text contact from their mobile phones.

It was also discovered that Elston had asked the HR department at Tata to alter his annual leave record retrospectively in an attempt to provide himself with an alibi.

Jeremy Evans, from  the CPS, said: “Elston is a classic example of a serious white collar criminal whose avarice drove him to steal almost a quarter of a million pounds from his employer.

“His motive was sheer greed. He sought to boost an already generous income with carefully planned criminality, in order to support a high-end lifestyle involving regular trips overseas trips.  This was at a time when his disposable income had been severely depleted as a result of a divorce settlement and ongoing maintenance payments.

“He sought to deny and conceal his criminality but analysis of the computer systems at Tata, evidence of his phone usage and forensic examination of his bank accounts revealed the truth.

“When faced with the overwhelming evidence against him and on the eve of his trial, he eventually pleaded guilty. Elston and Barry were sentenced to two years, suspended for two years today.

“These sentences make clear the seriousness with which the criminal justice system views this type of criminality.”

Notes to editors

  • Jeremy Evans is a Crown Advocate with CPS Yorkshire and Humberside.
  • Mark Elston d.o.b.: 31/10/70
  • Tim Barry d.o.b.: 7/4/70
  • POCA (Proceeds of Crime)  applications have been made. Elston will repay approximately £115,000 and Barry approximately £68,000 to Tata. Exact amounts will be finalised at a further hearing in November.


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