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Father and son sent to jail for car scam.

Byline: By Daniel Cochlin

A father and son who imported more than pounds 300,000 worth of luxury stolen cars from Italy, selling them to unsuspecting North-East drivers, were jailed yesterday.

Giuseppe and Carlo Giacomini sold Mercedes SLKs, BMW X5s, Audi A4s and a Porsche to friends and business contacts from their home in The Fold, Whitley Bay ( even forcing one small firm out of business after police seized their cars.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the cars had been stolen in Italy, and Giacomini senior, 47, arranged for them to be shipped to Tyneside with fake documentation, before selling them on.

The court heard that Giacomini senior would register the car in the UK, even though it was already registered elsewhere on the continent, taking the view that it was highly unlikely the owners' paths would ever cross.

His son, 26, a father of two young daughters, would then act as the delivery driver.

Yesterday, Giacomini senior was jailed for four and a half years after admitting conspiracy to handle stolen goods and selling counterfeit notes, and his son was jailed for two years and nine months after admitting the conspiracy charge.

Ian Graham, prosecuting, told the court the Giacominis were responsible for shipping in "at least 12 and probably 22 high quality, stolen, nearly new cars from Italy supported by the use of stolen blank Italian car ownership and registration documents."

He added: "The level of sophistication was such that others with considerable expertise within the motor trade were duped into dealing with the defendants and into accepting the vehicles as genuine imports.

"Initially, the stolen vehicles were sold to persons known to Giuseppe Giacomini, but the circle widened to include business contacts and through them spread to others."

One firm was Velocity Specialist Cars. They bought 12 vehicles, at a cost of more than pounds 100,000. When the cars were seized by police as part of Operation Raffia, the company was left with crippling debts and forced to fold.

Anthony Hawks, representing Giacomini senior, said his client had come over from Italy in the 1970s and set up a business, but when that and his marriage collapsed, he was left struggling financially and turned to crime."

Nick Cartmell, for Giacomini junior, said his client was brought in by his father thinking he was part of an honest business, and once he found out what was going on, "he found it very difficult to leave".

Judge Michael Cartlidge, jailing the pair, said: "This was serious offending with vehicles of high value. It must have caused considerable distress to anyone involved."

After the hearing, Northumbria Police Detective Sergeant Mick Hill said: "Operation Raffia was a long-running operation centred around the importation of high value stolen cars from the continent which were then being sold on through various commercial means.

"These sentences reflect the serious nature of the crime they were involved in and should hopefully act as a deterrent to others."
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Article Details
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Aug 5, 2006
Words:492
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