A gang of tobacco thieves have been ordered to pay back more than £185,000 of illegally-earned cash following a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing.
Mark Short, Adrian Love, Grzegorz Sikora, Neil Bradley and Adrian Baker were sentenced in April 2019 after they were caught selling confiscated tobacco from a high-security incinerator plant in Sandwich.
They all worked at the site and took advantage of the access they had to cigarettes and tobacco seized by Border Force. Instead of destroying it as instructed, they worked together to hide and sell the goods for their own financial gain.
The group’s offending took place between 2016 and 2017 and was uncovered by a site manager who noticed something suspicious and caught them on CCTV. All were sentenced to between three and four years in prison, aside from Baker who received an eight-month sentence, suspended for 18 months.
Alongside their convictions, a financial review of their assets and criminal lifestyle was carried out by financial investigators at Kent Police.
Confiscation hearings were held at Canterbury Crown Court in respect of all defendants between October 2020 and May 2021. As a result of these hearings:
- Short, 58, previously of Singledge Lane, Whitfield, has been ordered ordered to pay back £136,000.
- Love, 49, previously of Grenville way, Broadstairs, has been ordered to pay back £33,971.
- Sikora, 40, previously of Northdown Road, Cliftonville, has paid back £12,282.
- Bradley, 49, previously of St Augustine’s Road, Ramsgate, has paid back £2,950.
- Baker, 51, previously of Bush Avenue, Ramsgate, has paid back a nominal amount of £1.
Failure to pay the funds could result in them being returned to prison.
Detective Inspector Annie Clayton said: “Kent Police does not stop at the point of conviction and we will continue to use the full extent of the law against those who are intent on committing crime.
“The Proceeds of Crime Act is a legislation we can use to claim back money that offenders have gained through criminal activity.