Two men found guilty of theft from company

Mick Ferris
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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 June 27 where, following a four-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.

Enquiries revealed that Loveland had taken over £1.5 million, 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.

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 September 1.

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, ultimately greed on their parts prevented funds being utilised in the way that met the whole ethos of the company.”

Mick Ferris

Editor Email: mickferris@yellowad.co.uk