Four men at the centre of a large-scale theft from a major insurance company have been forced to hand back the profits of their crime.
John Michael Taylor, Stephen Paul Spellacy, Peter Harrington and Keith Swift who were part of a gang of 14 people who stole £1.4million from Aviva in York have been ordered to repay almost £500,000.
As a result of the long-running Operation Badminton investigation which began in early 2008 the gang were jailed for a total of 35 years. Since their imprisonment North Yorkshire Police has pursued their criminally gained assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
At a confiscation hearing at Leeds Crown Court on Monday 30 April 2012, Swift, aged 49, from Normanton, West Yorkshire was ordered to repay £440, 833.00 which he must pay within six months or face a further three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment.
The court heard that Swift, who was jailed for nine years for his part in the conspiracy and other frauds in Wales, Northamptonshire and West Yorkshire, had, on the balance of probability hidden £437, 953 which he was instructed to pay back along with the £2,880.00 worth of assets the police had traced.
At an earlier hearing the other men were also ordered to pay back the proceeds of their crimes.
Taylor, aged 37, from York, was a former manager working for Aviva and had diverted monies from his employers on a number of occasions culminating in a final large diversion of funds of over £1.1 million in December 2007. He pleaded guilty in January 2009 to conspiracy to defraud and money laundering and was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison.
On 20th April 2012 the Court found that he had benefited from his criminal conduct to the tune of £1,332,200.65. Police traced assets to the value of £6,855.21 in his name and made a confiscation order for that amount.
It should be noted that in Taylor’s case Aviva had already taken legal action against him in the High Court recovering substantial funds of around £50,000 from funds in his bank accounts and the equity in his home.
Spellacy, aged 39, from Pocklington, was a serving Humberside Police Officer at the time of the offences. He was Taylor’s accomplice and assisted in the laundering and collection of stolen money.
He pleaded guilty in May 2009 to conspiracy to money laundering and a firearms offence and was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison.
On 20th April 2012 the Court found that he had benefited from his criminal conduct to the value of £1,262,698.04. Police traced assets to the value of £33,371 in his name and made a confiscation order in that amount.
Harrington, aged 40, from Normanton, in West Yorkshire, was a JCB driver who accepted a fraudulent payment of £1.1 million into his bank account and then distributed the money under the direction of others whilst keeping a chunk for himself.
He pleaded guilty in September 2009 to conspiracy to money laundering and was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison.
On 20th April 2012 the Court found that he had benefited from his crimes to the value of £1,247,647.23. Police traced assets to the value of £1,518.73 in his name and made a confiscation order in that amount.
In Harrington’s case Aviva had already taken legal action against him in the High Court recovering substantial funds of around £86,000 from cash in his bank accounts, land, and a Range Rover Sport bought with the stolen funds which was seized by the police at the time of his arrest.
Detective Inspector Ian Wills, of North Yorkshire Police’s Financial Investigation Unit, said:
This is a fantastic result for the financial investigation unit and reflects four years work by Financial Investigator Mike Sankey who conducted the initial investigation and continued the financial enquiries through to the final confiscation hearing.
All the money which has been recovered will be paid out in compensation to the victims.
North Yorkshire Police will always pursue criminals to recover money and assets obtained from criminal activity.