Fraudster on the run

A CROOKED businessman from Worksop is believed to be on the run in Austria after he was found guilty of involvement in a £1.5 million fraud.

A CROOKED businessman from Worksop is believed to be on the run in Austria after he was found guilty of involvement in a 1.5 million fraud.

Keith Aspin, 44, of The Baulk, Worksop, along with partner John Kelsall, 55, of Church Street, Nettleton, Lincolnshire, were each jailed for six-and-a-half years for the scam.

Both were bosses of Lincoln-based Lincolnshire Trailer Sales (LTS) who obtained large loans for articulated lorry trailers that did not exist.

The company was also used to alter the identities of stolen trailers that were then sold on using a Glasgow firm, Transport Services and Engineering.

Last Friday, four men who had denied their involvement in the scam, were convicted after just five hours at the end of a 16-week trial.

The hearing, in which a jury sat for 74 days, was the longest ever at Lincoln Crown Court.

Aspin and Kelsall, the key men in the fraud, were found guilty of conspiracy to handle stolen goods, two charges of conspiracy to defraud, and theft.

Aspin was not in court to be sentenced, having gone on the run the Saturday before. He is now believed to be in Austria with his girfriend.

Former LTS accountant Daniel Wood, 44, of Church Meadow, Shifnal, Shropshire, was jailed for two years. He had admitted conspiracy to defraud.

Alexander McLean and Alan Sanders were each found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to handle stolen goods.

Judge John Machin sentenced 46-year-old McLean, of Balmoral Gardens, Uddington, Glasgow, to five years imprisonment.

Sanders, 55, of Muirfield Gardens, Westerwood, Cumbernauld, was remanded in custody and will be sentenced at a later date.

Aspin, Kelsall and McLean were each also barred from being involved in managing any company for four years.

Martin Beddoe, prosecuting, had told the court how the fraud operated from 1994 until October 1996 when police raided LTS's premises.

Officers seized more than 32,000 pages of documents and later investigations confirmed the company had been operating fraudulently.

As a result a number of hauliers were bankrupted after trailers they had bought were found to be stolen.

Passing sentence, the judge said LTS had operated in a "thoroughly dishonest" manner and had left its victims "distressed and impoverished."

After the trial, Det Con John Hopkinson, of Lincoln CID, said: "I am pleased with the long sentence. It has been a good conclusion to a very long trial and nationwide fraud operation.".

Police are now working with other authorities to try to find Aspin.