Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Two Grays businessmen told to expect “lengthy sentences” after series of thefts

TWO men have been found guilty of orchestrating the theft from a large company in Grays.

Graeme Loveland, 70 of West Hanningfield, Chelmsford and Dennis Wakeling, 83 of High Road Orsett appeared at Basildon Crown Court on Tuesday 27th June 2023 where, following a 4 week trial, the pair were found guilty of multiple offences.

An investigation from Essex Police’s Economic Crime Unit began in June 2019 following a report into national reporting centre Action Fraud.

It was alleged that Loveland and Wakeling had sold company assets worth £3.59 million from Thurrock Local Enterprise Agency, where the two were working as company directors.

After selling the company’s land and property for development, the two attempted to conceal their actions, transferring millions into various business accounts they owned.

During the investigation, enquiries revealed that Loveland had taken over £1.5 million pounds, using the money to fund an extravagant lifestyle, purchasing luxury vintage cars.

During their police interviews in January 2020, Wakeling made significant comments, claiming that the money was “better in his pocket than someone else’s.”

Both men denied criminal intent, claiming that they were paying themselves a salary for their jobs.

A thorough investigation from Essex Police’s Economic Crime Unit, which consisted of hundreds of enquiries including interviewing dozens of witnesses resulted in the two men being charged.

Loveland was charged with four counts of theft and one count of concealing or disguising criminal property.

Wakeling was charged with two counts of theft and one count of concealing or disguising criminal property.

Following a 4-week trial, the two men were found guilty on all counts and immediately remanded into custody.

After the verdict, His Honour Judge Hurst said the defendants would receive lengthy sentences, adding: “It amounted to eye-watering sums”.

They will be sentenced on 1 September 2023.

Investigating officer Detective Constable Greig Avery said:

“These men believed that they had gone under the radar and thought they had got away with funding a lavish lifestyle through criminal gains.

“It’s often viewed that theft from a business, no matter how large or small is a victimless crime.

“This is not the case and members of the public pay for those who steal from businesses and in this case this was a non-profit making company whose aim was to provide free of charge, services to develop, encourage and support local businesses.

“No satisfaction is taken from convicting individuals at this stage of their lives, but the right result was achieved, ultimate greed on their parts prevented funds being utilised in the way that met the whole ethos of the company.

“This was a long investigation and a real team effort, with special thanks to the CPS and Prosecuting Counsel Mr A Evans.

“We continue to work closely with Action Fraud, who help those who have been scammed or defrauded.”

More information can be found about Action Fraud on our website: https://www.essex.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/fa/fraud/action-fraud/

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