Rogue trader jailed for scrapyard scam and stripped of �700,000 worth of assets

ROGUE trader Tony ‘Tiger’ Gray will be stripped of �700,000 worth of assets as well as serving a prison sentence for his part in a five-year fraud.

ROGUE trader Tony ‘Tiger’ Gray will be stripped of �700,000 worth of assets as well as serving a prison sentence for his part in a five-year fraud.

Gray, 56, was jailed for 28 months at Norwich Crown Court on Friday for running an illegal vehicle dismantling business at The Builders’ Yard, Wheatley Bank, Walsoken.

Unless Gray – also known as Wade Levi Smith - finds the cash he could face an extra four years in prison.

The court heard he made �2.25million from his illegally run business which was closed down following a year long covert operation.

Judge Paul Downes said that the sums involved were considerable and told him that “if someone had not caught up with you, you would have carried on indefinitely.”

The raid which closed Gray’s business happened in June 2009 and also involved the Environment Agency and Customs and Excise.

Most Read

Police found stolen vehicles, �122,000 in cash, and discovered he had illegally abstracted �2,000 in electricity.

They seized a Rolls Royce, Jaguar sports car and two motor homes and froze �20,000 he kept in the bank.

Now Gray faces losing everything after he admitted breaching environmental regulations and two fraud offences of failing to declare an income as well as abstracting electricity.

The court ruled that in the five years to 2009 Gray’s criminality had earned him �2,253,157.83. He was stripped of assets worth �698,427.86 seized by the police that included three houses, 408 vehicles, �122,000 in cash and �20,000 in the bank.

Samantha Riggs, for Gray, said he had a number of tragedies in his life as his two sons were killed in a car pursuit with police in 2000 when their car ended up crashing into a tree and his brother was shot in another incident.

She said that as a result of this case he had lost everything: “He won’t have a penny to his name.”

PANEL

PROSECUTOR Sailesh Mehta said around 800 scrap vehicles were found and there was evidence of contamination from oil and batteries.

Mr Mehta said Gray had run the yard for years without paying any income tax and he had also converted �17,000 through money laundering.

“His purchases of cars between March 2005 and August 2009 totalled over �400,000” said Mr Mehta. “His receipts from sales on E-bay and sales of scrap metal from June 2007 to December 2008 totalled nearly �230,000.” HMRC calculated from this and other records that Gray owed about �69,000 in income tax.

Gray asked the court to take into consideration an offence of money laundering.

“Not all of Gray’s business activity could be uncovered because no proper records have been kept,” Mr Mehta told the court.

PANEL

Environment Agency crime team leader Phil Henderson said: “Our use of the Proceeds of Crime Act will demonstrate to criminals that we will not only prosecute them for environmental offences but pursue them for all monies gained while illegally dealing in waste”.

PANEL

Jim Graham of HM Revenue & Customs Criminal Taxes Unit said: “The payment of income tax is not optional and HMRC will not hesitate to investigate those who rob the exchequer of public funds.

“Anyone with information about suspected income tax evasion should contact the Tax Evasion Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

PANEL

Speaking after the case Det Sgt Pete Jessop of Norfolk Police said “it is fair to say this was an unprecedented case with Gray showing a complete lack of disregard for the authorities.

“The site had a long term diverse effect on the local community and businesses. “Today’s sentence goes to show that crime does not pay.”

He added: “This has been a lengthy investigation involving several organisations and demonstrates how agencies work well together in Norfolk by sharing information to maximise impact on people who chose to operate outside of the law.”

Sgt Jessop belongs to The Operation Radar Team which is a specialist investigation unit which targets bogus callers, rogue traders and criminals involved in linked rural crime, in conjunction with other agencies.

The assets seized by police under POCA will be sold at auction and ploughed back into the criminal justice system.

HMRC was awarded �69,000 in compensation for tax evasion and energy supplier E-on was also re-imbursed.

PANEL

A YEAR ago Gray was jailed for eight months after he sold scrap vehicles worth �35,000 in “blatant breach” of a court order forbidding him from doing so.

Judge Peter Jacobs told Gray he had “not the slightest doubt” that he continued doing business after he was given a restraining order to stop him trading in July last year.

Judge Jacobs said aerial photographs of the scrap yard taken in July showed around 600 cars according to police estimates, but photos taken on March 17 showed hundreds had been removed.

“A glance at that photograph reveals that the bulk of the cars have gone,” he said.

“This is the clearest contempt of court,” said Judge Jacobs. “The reality is that Gray has simply carried on the business and has disposed of �35,000 worth of property in complete defiance of the restraining order.”

Judge Jacobs told Gray, still at the time on bail: “You would have been allowed �100 a week to live on and you may have been allowed more if you came before me, but you have been totally arrogant and indifferent about this.”

PANEL

IN August 2008 Tony Gray found himself the victim of crime after being attacked in his home by a gang of robbers who poured boiling water over his back. He was forced to hand over �6,000 in cash.

The man who later drove the robbers to the house was jailed for 15 months but the gang was never caught.

Gray had two kettles of boiling water poured over his back and buttocks to make him disclose where he kept his money.

At the driver’s trial the judge said it was an unusual case and accepted that he did not know Gray would be “grievously harmed”.

Judge Bate awarded Gray �250 for his active co-operation in the inquiry.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter