Reg-plate fraudster told he is facing jail.
Court hears of a massive scam to finance man's life of luxury
Crooked business-man Brian Hindle flaunted delusions of grandeur while extending his property empire, calling himself Lord of Sunbury.
He even had a plaque, placed on the gate of one of his luxury holiday homes in Pattaya, Thailand.
But greedy Hindle, 49, who used an inside man to fleece the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Authority in a massive scam to bolster his lavish lifestyle, was brought down to earth with a bump when a judge ordered the confiscation of pounds 300,448 of his vast assets.
And Judge Michael Cartlidge warned Hindle and accomplice Paul Miller that they both face jail today.
Engineering firm boss Hindle, of Aspen Ridge, Great Whittington, and vehicle licensing inspector Miller, of Wandylaw Cottages, Chathill, both Northumberland, had already pleaded guilty at Newcastle Crown Court to conspiracy to defraud the DVLA.
Hindle was told at the court yesterday that he will have to pay up for the fraud.
Prosecution lawyers estimate his property portfolio is worth more than pounds 700,000, and he will be given time to pay.
Judge Cartlidge, remanding Hindle and Miller on bail for sentence later today, told them: "Don't misunderstand; I'm afraid you are going to have start your sentences. It's almost certainly prison."
Today in these exclusive pictures obtained by the Chronicle, we reveal the extent of Hindle's champagne lifestyle, involving homes and properties at home and abroad.
He was well known to the locals when he stayed at his Palm Springs villa near the Pattaya country club.
He also had a top-floor penthouse at the Markland Condo on the edge of Pattaya Bay.
And he had interests in at least two pubs on North Tyneside which were put up for sale.
Hindle aimed to cash in on the lucrative market for enthusiasts willing to pay the earth for personalised vehicle number plates.
Robin Patton, defending Hindle, said the businessman had turned to Miller because he needed a friend in the DVLA after feeling staff there were "victimising" him when he made legitimate number-plate applications.
Mr Patton added: "He is now suffering from severe anxiety. The fear of going to prison and losing all he has worked for, not simply for himself but for his employees and his family, is a strain he finds almost unbearable."
Michael Hodson, defending Miller, said the civil servant was now a "broken man" with severe health problems.
"A sentence of imprisonment will cause him to be a serious suicide risk," he added. Northumbria Police launched an investigation into the potential loss of revenue to the DVLA, estimated at around pounds 2.4m.
But Hindle admitted to being involved in a fraction of that amount, involving 130 to 150 number plates.
It was claimed in his defence that it was a "victimless crime" in that the DVLA would not have gained in issuing the old number plates.
The scam worked by falsifying and altering documents for the registration of number plate applications.
But Hindle needed access to files, documents and records of defunct numbers dating back before the DVLA formed a centralised national computer base.
Through his contacts, he found a local fall-guy working in the Tyneside vehicle records office at Newcastle's Eagle Star House, Regent Centre, Gosforth, the court was told.
It was claimed by the prosecution that Miller took thousands of pounds in cash "bungs" from Hindle for helping to supply the relevant information to falsify and alter applications for vehicle registration plates.
The Chronicle last year exposed the full extent of the complex fraud which enabled Hindle, the owner of Red Rose Engineering of Blaydon, and Miller, 33, to pull off the racket which investigators believe started in the autumn of 1997.
The offence involved conspiring together and with others to defraud by using falsified documents to induce the DVLA to issue registration numbers for vehicles which did not exist or were no longer able to be used on the road.
Hindle's personal assistant, Alison Glover, 46, of Sutherland Grange, Houghton-le-Spring, also admitted a conspiracy to defraud charge between January 1995 and August 2000.
She was told she would not face jail.
Miller admitted corruption between January 1995 and July 2000 and corruptly accepting from Hindle payments in cash and kind as an inducement for reward in return for supplying confidential information.
The material was in relation to the registration of motor vehicles and processing applications for the registration of motor vehicles which were supported by documents he knew to be false.
Hindle admitted deception during the same period, corruptly giving payments in cash and kind to Miller in return for Miller supplying confidential information in relation to the registration of vehicles and processing applications for the registration of vehicles which were supported by documents he knew to be false.
It took a multi-agency task force, headed by DC Trevor Daws of Northumbria Police's stolen vehicle squad, and DVLA investigators from Tyneside and its headquarters in Swansea to crack the intricate racket.
DC Daws said after the defendants pleaded guilty: "Hindle was the controller, but Miller later became a willing partner in the scam.
"We believe abuse of the vehicle registration system started in late 1997.
"This was a complex fraud which needed lengthy inquiries to obtain and scrutinise documentary evidence."
It was also discovered that Miller, a relatively lowly-paid DVLO vehicle inspector, had paid the deposit for his home using pounds 10,000 from Hindle.
He had also bought a pounds 6,500 K-registration Land-Rover Discovery 4x 4 vehicle which he would never park outside his office in the Regent Centre for his colleagues to see.
It was estimated that Miller, who was known to have debts, received payments of around pounds 25,000 while involved in the fraud.
The pair became close associates, and Hindle even went to Miller's wedding and, with his partner, on honeymoon with the couple.
During the two-year inquiry, police managed to track down Hindle's safehouse, a third-floor flat in Dorrington Road, Fawdon, Newcastle.
When officers raided it they discovered up to 50,000 documents including registration documents, MOT application certificates and V62 transfer forms, together with a number of registration plates.
Hindle owned a number of properties in the West End and north Newcastle areas, along with his plush remote home in Great Whittington, near Matfen.
He also drove a Jaguar which had his own number plate, XK8.
Police were able to establish that registration number was obtained with false documents.
Hindle also had a penthouse in Pattaya, Thailand, where he spent several weeks a year on holiday, and a villa on the bay side.
His personal assistant, Glover, was also involved in the transactions as she controlled the documents and submitted VRO applications on his behalf.
Bogus names were used by Hindle when he made applications for the number-plate transfers, and the documents were sent to the flats he owned around the city.
With Miller on the inside, he was able to get relevant information from the DVLA computer data bank to carry on the fraudulent transfers.
Miller would also say he had checked and approved vehicles which did not exist.
Hindle was then able to sell on personalised plates to people willing to pay thousands of pounds for the transfer.