A LONG-established scrap dealer has lost his good name after falling foul of a police ‘sting’.

Following a drive warning the scrap trade against dealing in stolen metal, police carried out an undercover operation where two police officers posing as customers took items for sale at Newton Metal Recycling, at Wingate, County Durham.

Between late August and early October, 2011, the officers made two legitimate sales at the yard, before making nine sales of BT marked cable.

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Durham Crown Court heard the earlier publicity campaign followed widespread problems caused by theft of cable from BT and electricity provider NEDL.

Ian Mullarkey, prosecuting, said the cable sold at the Newton yard was clearly marked ‘BT’ and staff there advised the two officers to first remove or strip the casing.

Each time cash payments were made for cable with a total weight of between 400 and 450 kilograms.

Following the final sale of 53 kilos of stripped and burnt BT cable, for £150, on October 11, business operator, Charles Newton, and several employees - described by defence barristers as ‘yard monkeys’ - were arrested a week later.

Mr Mullarkey said Newton made admissions when interviewed.

The 66-year-old businessman, of Pinders Way, Sherburn Hill, near Durham, admitted encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence and three counts of attempted handling of stolen goods.

Richard Herrmann, for Newton, told the court: “He’s 66 and a man of previous good character.

“The prosecution suggested there was a culture of accepting stolen goods.

“Well, he doesn’t accept there was this ‘culture’, as most transactions were legitimate.

“This has been a family business over four generations and he’s now withdrawn from it, to some extent, although this has brought shame on himself and the family.”

Newton was given a ten-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, with a three-month 9pm - 6am electronically-monitored home curfew.

Co-accused Christopher Frizzell, 28, of Cummings Square, Wingate, who admitted encouraging and assisting the commission of an offence and two counts of handling, received a six-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, and was ordered to perform 150-hours’ unpaid work.

Daniel Anthony Grainger, 23, of Dodds Terrace, Wingate, was fined £750, and Ashley Paul Lockey, 22, of Market Crescent, Wingate, was given a 12-month community order, with 80-hours’ unpaid work.

Grainger admitted five counts, and Lockey two, of attempted handling stolen goods.

Proceeds of crime proceedings will follow against Newton and Frizzell later in the year.