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'Irish plates' Two men who stole 19 vehicles during crime spree in UK are jailed

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 Owen Maughan and Martin Ward. Photo credit: Kent Police

Owen Maughan and Martin Ward. Photo credit: Kent Police

Owen Maughan and Martin Ward. Photo credit: Kent Police

TWO 'prolific' criminals who used fake Irish registration plates to steal 19 vehicles in the UK have been jailed.

According to UK police, Owen Maughan and Martin Ward were part of an organised crime group which stole vehicles worth around £70,000 (€77,000) across England during the first half of 2020.

The pair used stolen Irish registration places to disguise the stolen vehicles during their crime spree.

Last week, both men admitted stealing motor vehicles and were sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court.

Maughan (43) of Spade Lane, Hartlip, was jailed for two-and-a-half years. Ward (46) of Goudhurst Road, Gillingham, was jailed for two years.

The offences took place between 7 January and 3 July, with the offenders basing themselves at a site in Spade Lane, Hartlip.

They targeted specific models of vehicle - Suzuki Carrys, Mazda E220s and Toyota Hiluxs. Several caravans were also stolen over the course of the offending.

Officers in the Medway Crime Investigation Department and Intelligence Unit said the pair consistently placed false Irish plates on the vehicles they had stolen.

They would then take the property to a location outside of the county, or take it back to Spade Lane.

In addition to the false plates, the stolen cars would travel in convoy with another vehicle and on several occasions the convoy vehicle was found to be insured in Maughan’s name.

Ward was also repeatedly found to be connected to the offending, in particular on 17 May when he entered Kent in a Ford Transit that was travelling on false Irish plates.

These same plates were known to have been placed on a Suzuki Supercarry that had been stolen from Folkestone the previous day.

Officers were able to track the movements of the Transit and, as a result, uncovered CCTV of Ward disposing of a registration plate down a drain.

Detective Inspector Scott Machin, who leads Medway CID, said: "This court result is a testament to the professionalism of my investigating officers.

"Despite having to review a vast amount of complex information, they were able to piece together evidence from 19 separate offences and present a high-quality case that left Maughan and Ward with no choice but to plead guilty.

"Their imprisonment is a fantastic result for our communities. These two men were well organised and prolific offenders who are now no longer able to target innocent members of the public."

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