Man denies double Range Rover theft

AN IPSWICH man accused of stealing two Range Rovers worth £100,000 has denied being part of a scam to obtain the vehicles on finance and sell them to unsuspecting buyers.

AN IPSWICH man accused of stealing two Range Rovers worth £100,000 has denied being part of a scam to obtain the vehicles on finance and sell them to unsuspecting buyers.

Barry Lawrence told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court that he had been “a big fool” in his dealings concerning the two vehicles but had not acted dishonestly.

Lawrence, 51, of Marigold Avenue, Ipswich has denied two offences of stealing Range Rovers from finance companies.

It has been alleged that he signed finance agreements for the two vehicles which were later sold to unsuspecting buyers by someone else.

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The court heard that a couple who purchased one of the vehicles in a part exchange deal on eBay were arrested on their return to the UK from a holiday abroad on suspicion of theft.

Steven Dyble, prosecuting, said false information was entered on the finance agreements including the fact that Lawrence owned his home and was a construction manager when in fact he lives in a council house and had been a rail worker for 30 years.

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Giving evidence, Lawrence said he had been asked to become the managing director of a company by a local businessman who he trusted and regarded as a gentleman.

He said he had been told his role would be like that of a sleeping partner and in return for signing a few cheques he would be paid £1,000 a month and he was later given an Audi car.

He claimed that as part of the deal he was asked to set up a business account and was then asked by the businessman to obtain a £25,000 loan.

Lawrence said that after handing over the £25,000 to the businessman he was paid £5,000 for getting the loan.

He claimed he was subsequently asked to sign two finance agreements for the Range Rovers and had driven the vehicles to the businessman's house and left them there.

He claimed the paperwork for the finance agreements had already been completed when he arrived and he denied providing false information in relation to his home and his employment.

Lawrence told the court he believed the vehicles were going to be company cars and he had not acted dishonestly.

He claimed that as a result of his dealings with the businessman he had been financially ruined.

He admitted he had been a big fool but said he had trusted the businessman and had not realised he had been bankrupt.

He said that when he was asked to become managing director of the company he had thought he had “landed on his feet” and he had not been suspicious of the businessman's motives.

Cross-examined by Mr Dyble, he denied that the £5,000 he was given by the businessman was “his cut” for being involved in the acquisition and disposal of the Range Rovers.

The jury retired to consider its verdicts yesterday afternoon and will return to court today to continue its deliberations.

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