Garage owner asked to arrange car theft via Whatsapp, court told
PUBLISHED: 06:38 19 October 2018 | UPDATED: 14:48 19 October 2018
Archant Norfolk 2018
A Norfolk garage owner was asked if he could help arrange the theft of a Range Rover, a court heard.
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.
Yesterday a Norwich Crown Court jury heard transcripts of police interviews with Oakley, where he was asked about the Whatsapp messages downloaded from his iPhone.
During an interview with police in April this year, police quizzed Oakley about messages sent between himself and a man called James Carter.
The interviewing officer said the messages read as though Mr Carter had wanted his Range Rover stolen for insurances purposes.
“It looks like he is asking you [Oakley] to arrange the theft,” the officer said in the interview.
“You say you are on it.”
Oakley responded during the interview by saying he never arranged the theft.
The officer said Oakley had told Carter in a message to call him as it was “safer”.
When asked why he had said that, Oakley said “I don’t know.”
The court heard how the solicitor asked to speak with his client during the interview.
Prosecutor Edward Renvoize said when the interview resumed, Oakley answered “no comment” to further questions about his Whatsapp conversations.
Oakley, of Alburgh Road, Hempnall, is accused of supplying false number plates to a gang which carried out more than 200 burglaries between February and December 2017.
Earlier in the trial, the court heard how the gang stole more than £2m worth of property.
Oakley is charged with conspiracy to commit burglary, which he denies.
In previous interviews with police he told officers he did not know everyone he was making number plates for or “what they were doing with them”.
Also standing trial are:
Ammir Kohanzad, 68, of Ingestre Road, Calver, London
James Pateman, 55, of Wollens Brook, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire
Thomas Pateman, 54, of Fen Road, Chesterton, Cambridgeshire.
The three men are charged with handling stolen goods, which they all deny.
The trial continues.