Former businessman fined for plastic recycling scam

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Bread baskets worth £500,000 stolen to recycle and sell

A former recycling company owner who played his part in a scam to steal plastic bread baskets worth £500,000 has been made to pay almost £10,000.

After pleading guilty to his role in the scam to steal, recycle and sell 150,000 plastic bread baskets that were leased by British baking firm Warburtons, Paul Matthews, aged 48, was jailed for three years back in May 2014.

Mr. Matthews appeared at a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing on 1st April 2016 at Preston Crown Court and was ordered to pay back £9,970 over three months, or receive another six months in jail.

In 2014, a criminal trial was held at Burnley Crown Court and discovered that a delivery driver for the baking company Warburtons, named Paul Rogers and his manager Robert Cooper, stole the baskets and then sold them on to Mr. Matthews, who then granulated 230 tonnes of the £500 per tonne bread baskets at PM Plastics, Darwen.

The bakers who supplied the bread baskets to Warburtons, called Basco, noticed that the number of baskets in the North West area was low and so ordered some new equipment to replace the shortfall after the theft of the baskets was detected. A report by The Lancashire Telegraph says that the cost to replace the equipment was £562,700 but Warburtons agreed to a settlement of £220,000.

However, in March 2012, an anonymous phone call to the basket suppliers, Basco, claimed that a number of its baskets were sill at PM Plastics in Darwen. 5,000 baskets were found by investigators, along with three tonnes of chipped plastic and bolts, nuts and wheels.

After the trial in 2014, Mr. Rogers from Rochdale, was jailed for three and a half years and Mr. Cooper, from Bolton, to four years in prison.

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