Pensioners avoid jail for money-laundering

THREE pensioners have escaped a jail sentence for their part in a huge money-laundering conspiracy centred on a Suffolk scrapyard.

THREE pensioners have escaped a jail sentence for their part in a huge money-laundering conspiracy centred on a Suffolk scrapyard.

Noel Healy, 77, Bernadette McGivern, 69, and Harold McGivern, 67, admitted the charges last month and were today handed 48-week jail terms, suspended for two years.

The trio, all of Bridge End Road in Red Lodge, near Newmarket, admitted conspiring to conceal, disguise, convert, transfer or remove criminal property between March 24, 2003 and September 30, 2008.

It comes after Robert McGivern, the son of Bernadette and Harold, was jailed for five-and-a-half years for his part in the conspiracy last month.

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Robert McGivern, of New Cheveley Road, Newmarket, was found guilty at Ipswich Crown Court of being involved in a money-laundering conspiracy and also handling stolen goods.

He could now be pursued by the authorities for the money he made from his criminal enterprises.

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It is likely there will be a separate hearing to determine the benefit Robert McGivern made from his crimes and the assets he has which can be seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Although the amount of benefit is yet to be determined, it is believed it is likely to be more than �1million.

His mother, father and Healy may also face seizures of cash from their criminal activities following their sentencing.

Robert McGivern was charged on September 30 last year after police raided his scrapyard in Red Lodge. Oficers swooped on the Ponderosa yard in Bridge End Road the previous day.

As a result of the raid, three cars, a van and an oil dowser were said to have been seized.

Speaking after today's hearing Detective Inspector Andy Smith said: ““Operation Basil was the biggest operation of its kind in Suffolk in 2008, and involved dozens of Suffolk officers and staff including search teams, Scenes of Crime Officers, CID and local officers, plus regional police resources.

“In addition partners from the Department of Work and Pensions, the Environment Agency, DVLA, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), VOSA, the Health and Safety Executive, Suffolk Trading Standards, EDF Energy, British Telecom, British Transport Police, Network Rail and the UK Border Agency all assisted and I would like to pass on my thanks to all involved.

“The two-acre site took two days to search, and included a scrap yard, house and outbuildings. This was an enormous undertaking, and the painstaking work led to over �735,000 being recovered and items of plant seized.

“Several stolen vehicles were also recovered, which came from a number of locations across East Anglia.

“Offences on the site were identified under Immigration, Health and Safety and Revenue and Customs legislation, and Suffolk Constabulary's investigation led to charges being brought against Robert, Harold and Bernadette McGivern and Noel Healy.”

He added: “We believe that Operation Basil has disrupted criminal activity in West Suffolk and further afield, and this case should serve as a warning to organised groups that they will be caught, prosecuted and their proceeds of crime seized.”

Graham Ranson, Head of HMRC's Criminal Taxes Unit, added: “This was a calculated plot motivated by greed which deprived the nation's public services of thousands of pounds.

“Their activities ensured they were able to fund their lifestyles and increase their wealth at the expense of the taxpayer.

“We will not stop in our pursuit to bring those involved in this type of criminal activity before the courts.

“By working in partnership with the police we have assisted in the disruption of the criminal activities of this family, and we will now work to reclaim the proceeds of their crimes for the public purse.”

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