FOUR Gloucestershire men have been sentenced for their part in a nationwide fraud to steal and sell on industrial batteries.

Ryan Brazil, 24, Martin Goodwin, 27, Ronnie Smith, 26, and Carl Brazil, 18, all of Highgrove Lane, Minsterworth, appeared at Bristol Crown Court on Wednesday, 4 June, having pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity to fraudulent trading.

Goodwin was sentenced to 16 months in custody while Smith was given a 10-month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, plus 200 hours community service.

Ryan Brazil was given a six-month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, plus 200 hours community servi, while Carl Brazil was sentenced to a 12-month community order and an 80-hour skills programme requirement.

The court heard the four men had been involved in a wide-ranging fraud, dating between September 2009 and July 2013, to pose as contractors to steal waste industrial batteries.

Once the batteries had been stolen, the four then travelled to a variety of scrap metal dealers to sell on the stolen merchandise – again posing as genuine contractors.

Wearing branded outfits and arriving in liveried vehicles, the men posed as genuine contractors and convinced officials at the depots to allow them to take the valuable batteries. No company received money for the batteries which should have been sold to, and collected by, designated waste contractors.

Detective sergeant Anthony Jones, of British Transport Police’s National Metal Theft Team, said the criminal activity had cost the British industry a remarkable sum.

“Thanks to the work of the specialist metal theft Fusion Unit, an intelligence cell operated by BTP and partners as part of the National Metal Theft Taskforce, we were able to uncover countless other offences committed by the organised group,” he said..

“The sentencing proves that the criminal justice system, and the people it serves, will not sit idly whilst others seek to profit from offending behaviour.”

The four-year offending spree saw a number of industries and companies defrauded of at least £100,000, though the true level of their offending is probably much higher

As well as the sentences handed down, the court has given leave to pursue a Proceeds of Crime Act case against the men.