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Crime

Two Crawley men sent to prison for defrauding car owners of thousands of pounds

A Sussex Police investigation has broken up a Crawley-based ‘car ringing’ conspiracy which defrauded car owners of high value cars of thousands of pounds, with the two men being sent to prison.

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Imran Raja and Arran Khan (left to right in these photos)

At Hove Crown Court on Tuesday 2 April, Imran Raja, 38, of Langley Drive, Crawley, and Arran Khan, 28, of West Way, Crawley , were sentenced to three years and six months, and to three years and ten months, respectively, for conspiracy to defraud.

Both had been convicted on 7 February after a five-week trial.

Imran Raja and Arran Khan each had their own car trading or car repair businesses in Crawley, through which they channelled their illegal activities.

See also our photos of three examples of cars, before and after they were ‘ringed’.

Detective Constable Nick Tinley of the force’s Serious Organised Crime Unit said;

“The defendants bought badly damaged and written off cars, mainly top of the range BMW’s, repaired them, often with stolen parts, and then sold them on. The sales were fraudulent because the buyers were deceived as to the true previous history of the cars.

“Most of the cars that they repaired were deemed by the insurance industry to be beyond repair. They should have their bodyshell crushed and should not go back on the road. The defendants took advantage of then-existing procedural loop holes in the insurance and salvage industry processes, and the processes of VOSA and the DVLA to put a number of these vehicles back on the road.

“It is fair to say that some of those loop-holes have since been addressed and procedures tightened, since our investigation – we made the arrests in 2015.

“Several vehicles were purchased for export using an account registered in Belgium. These vehicles however did not leave the UK, instead they were acquired by the defendants and repaired in Crawley.

“By restoring damaged vehicles using stolen parts, altering the mileage or by producing replicas of limited editions using stolen parts, the defendants conspired to defraud the purchasers and make a greater profit from their operations.

“The defendants produced a number of replicas of the limited edition BMW 1M model. Only four 1Ms have been stolen in the UK and the defendants were found to have handled parts from three of them.

“Our enquiries centred on Arran Khan’s Ebay-based business ‘Affordable Performance’ and Imran Raja’s company, Customize Bodyworkz in Three Bridges, Crawley, and another location also in Three Bridges which was not the subject of any convictions.

In sentencing the pair, Judge Christine Henson assessed the loss to victims in respect of seven cars which formed the basis of the prosecution evidence, at between £90,000 and £100,000.

Judge Henson said;

“both had the highest level of culpability in the fraud, which involved significant planning over a sustained period of time.

“I consider it to be a real aggravating factor that the defendants were prepared to carry out cosmetic repairs with no consideration of the safety of the victims or other road users. If a structurally compromised vehicle had been involved in a collision the consequences could have been fatal.”

She also disqualified both men from being Company Directors for seven years, describing them as unfit for the role.

Police enquiries have not ended with these sentencings. An investigation is continuing into the financial assets of Khan and Raja with a view to a court hearing at a later date to seek confiscation orders against them under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

Nick Tinley said:

“Members of the public in the market for a second hand vehicle are advised to carry out diligent checks before making a purchase. This case has shown that there are dishonest individuals out there who are capable of making wrecked cars look ‘showroom’ again, while conducting only superficial repairs”.

Khalid Khan, 54, of Martyrs Avenue, Crawley; Jose Teixeira, 38, of Ramsey Close, Horley; and Ian McMurray, 49, of Pelling Way, Broadbridge Heath, Horsham, were all found not guilty of conspiracy to defraud, and Scott Bolger, 45, of Chadwick Close, Horley, was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice.

Crime

Teenager found guilty of murdering Arnold Potter named

A teenager who stabbed and killed a man in Maidenbower, Crawley has been found guilty of murder.

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Kai Gasson, 17, unemployed, from Crawley, admitted using a lock knife to wound the torso of Arnold Potter; however, he claimed he did so in self-defence.

Reporting restrictions were lifted to allow him to be named.

The 24-year-old victim sought help from a number of residents following the incident in Watson Close, Maidenbower, around 6.40pm on Thursday, November 15.

Shortly afterwards, he was found collapsed in the street. Despite the best efforts of paramedics and members of the public who commenced CPR, he was sadly declared dead at 7.17pm.

Gasson had chased Arnold (pictured above) up the street following the attack, but then made off from the scene and spent the night at a friend’s house, where he confessed to his crime and was encouraged to hand himself in to police the next day.

Man is stabbed to death in Maidenbower.

He was charged with murder and was remanded in custody ahead of a two-week trial which concluded at Lewes Crown Court on Thursday, April 18 where a jury found him guilty of murder.

It is alleged that in the events leading up to the attack, the defendant had been approached in the street by Arnold, who is reported to have held a knife to his throat and threatened to rob him of his drugs.

In response to this, Gasson withdrew a knife from his bag and used it to stab Arnold.

Following a search of his house, the defendant was further arrested and charged with possession of an offensive weapon (a knife). The jury also found him guilty of this offence as well as possession with intent to supply a class A drug (cocaine).

Photo: A replica of the knife used by Gasson

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Richardson, who led the investigation, said: “Kai Gasson has been found guilty of the murder of Arnold Potter and rightly so now faces a minimum of 15 years behind bars.

“The jury has rejected his claim that he acted in self-defence and agreed with the prosecution that he murdered Arnold Potter.

“Gasson was also been found guilty of possession of a knife and pleading guilty to possession with intent to supply cocaine.

“Knife crime hasn’t just affected the two individuals involved; it has also affected their families, friends and the wider community and my thoughts our especially with Arnold’s family at this time.

“The key element to this tragic incident is the possession of a knife in a public place, which is an extremely serious offence.

“Had Gasson not been in possession of a knife that day, he would not have stabbed anyone and he would not now be facing a sentence.

“The devastation caused by knife crime is well documented, and Sussex Police – like every other force in the UK – will not tolerate it.

“We must continue to educate people – particularly young people – that carrying offensive weapons in public is a serious offence which ruins lives. It is a common misconception that some people feel safer in possession with a knife. This cannot be further from the truth; carrying a knife makes you far more likely to be involved in a crime, whether you are the victim or the offender.

“Our message is simple: lose the knife, not your life.”

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