Suffolk gas engine deception case opened

A Suffolk based engine expert and his associate received money for collectable gas engines which they knew where not genuine, a court heard yesterday.

Stephen Green and Darren Starks were involved in the sale of three engines and an attempted sale of a fourth between 2003 and 2008 to serious American collector Ray Ellison.

Opening the trial, prosecution barrister Andrew Shaw described how Mr Ellison had either been approached or found the engines online and had gone to Mr Green, of The Walks in Aldeby, to have them verified and shipped to the US. He transferred money to Mr Starks, of Millbank, Lowestoft.

Mr Shaw told Norwich Crown Court that the addresses and people who were said to be the owners of the engines had not existed and letters, apparently sent from owners, had post marks which had been traced back to Suffolk.

The court was told that the first Otto and Crossley gas engine sold to Mr Ellison was one stolen from the Anson Engine Museum in February 2000. Mr Ellison had been told the owner found it in a barn in Northern Ireland.

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The second engine, he said, was a copy of an Otto and Crossley inverted slide engine.

Mr Ellison also transferred money thinking a National gas engine had been built in 1889 when in fact it dated back to 1896.

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The fourth Otto and Crossley Engine which Mr Ellison had been sent a picture of and asked to transfer money for is alleged to have been taken at the Manchester Science Museum by the defendents who created a blank canvas with a tarpaulin.

Mr Shaw said: 'As a self confessed expert it must have been obvious to that the first engine was from Anson, the second was a fake.'

In releation to the Manchester engine, he said: 'Only a man who was acting dishonestly could have taken money from Mr Ellison for an engine that wasn't for sale.'

He said that Mr Starks, 43 was 'in cahoots' with 49-year-old Mr Green.

Both men deny three counts of obtaining a money transfer by deception and one count of attempting to obtain a money transfer by deception. Starks also denies a money laundering charge.

The case continues.

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