Norfolk garage owner denies he knowingly supplied false plates to burglary gang

Simon Oakley, who owns Stratton Quick Fit in Long Stratton, is one of four men who went on trial on

Simon Oakley, who owns Stratton Quick Fit in Long Stratton, is one of four men who went on trial on October 16 in connection with the break-ins. Picture: Staff photographer - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk garage owner has denied he knowingly supplied false plates to a regional gang who burgled more than 200 homes.

Simon Oakley, 45, who owns Stratton Quickfit in Long Stratton, is one of four men standing trial in connection with a 'prolific' burglary gang which operated across East Anglia.

Oakley, of Alburgh Road in Hempnall, is accused of supplying false number plates to a gang which carried out more than 200 burglaries between February and December 2017.

Giving evidence at Norwich Crown Court on Monday, he accepted he had supplied the number plates for the cars but had no idea they were being used in the commission of burglaries.

He told the jury: 'I had no idea. I never saw the cars or fitted a plate to the car.'

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Asked by his barrister Michael Clare when he finally was made aware that plates he supplied had been used on vehicles by the burglary gang, he replied: 'Not until I was arrested.'

He said he supplied about 400 to 500 number plates a year and although he said he was supposed to ask for documentation and proof of ID he accepted that he did not always ask for them.

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He denied he had been involved in criminal activity and told the jury how he had set up his garage business and employed four full-time staff and one part-time worker.

Asked about two guns which were found under his bed when police searched his home, Oakley said that they had been given to him by a friend after he was burgled about eight years ago. He said they were vintage-type guns, with no ammunition, and said they were just to frighten off any would-be burglars.

Oakley is also charged with conspiracy to commit burglary, which he denies.

Also standing trial are:

Ammir Kohanzad 68, of Ingestre Road in Calver, London, James Pateman, 55, of Wollens Brook in Hoddesdon, Hertforshire, and Thomas Pateman, 54, of Fen Road in Chesterton, Cambridgeshire.

The three men are charged with handling stolen goods, which they all deny.

The trial continues.

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