Gatwick Airport workers who plotted to steal millions of pounds worth of goods from their employer have been jailed for a total of almost 35 years.
Those involved included Richard Beaumont, 60, a HGV driver, of Edinburgh Close, Southwater, and Stewart Morris, 54, a driver, of Southwark Close, Crawley, who were both convicted of conspiracy to steal but acquitted of money laundering. They were each sentenced to 24 months in prison, but in their cases the sentence was suspended for two years. They were ordered to carry out 180 hours of community work.
Masses of cigarettes, perfumes, alcohol and electrical goods with a combined value of £2,432,665 were stolen between 1 January and 1 August 2013.
The large-scale conspiracy was carried out by employees who loaded planes with items belonging to a catering company which supplies airlines at the airport.
Following a thorough investigation by Sussex Police, the 15 individuals were all arrested in a pre-planned day of action on 9 July 2013. The arrests were made at addresses across the South East with the support of resources in Sussex, Surrey and Kent. More than 80 officers were involved in the operation.
At Lewes Crown Court the following were jailed after being convicted of conspiracy to steal and money laundering:
– Keith Gosling, 58, a factory worker, of Ashurst Way, East Preston (28 months);
– Durrell Corbin, 49, a painter, of Home Close, Brixham, Devon (36 months);
– Cezary Kosobudski, 52, a factory worker, of Cabourne Road, Grimsby, South Humberside (28 months);
– William Webber, 61, an assembler, of Salisbury Road, Crawley (28 months);
– Peter Simmonds, 51, a telecommunications employee, of Montgomery Drive, Bognor Regis (28 months);
– Pietro Bernone, 29, a driver, of Oakapple Close, Crawley (32 months);
– Mindaugas Baranauskas, 36, unemployed, of Denchers Plat, Crawley (43 months);
– George Messenger, 57, an airline employee, of Hobbs Industrial Estate, Lingfield, Surrey (24 months);
– Alan Hunt, 58, a HGV driver, of Titmus Drive, Crawley (24 months);
– Christopher Allen, 55, unemployed, of Lansdowne Way, Angmering (28 months);
– William Ayling, 62, a driver, of Mayo Road, Brighton (28 months);
– Karamjeet Singh, 54, unemployed, of Richmond Road, Gillingham, Kent (48 months).
Viktorija Gudonyte, 33, a sales assistant, of Lavington Close, Crawley, was convicted of theft and sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.
Police said that the case first came to light when, in February 2013, Gate Gourmet was made aware of what appeared to be a large stock discrepancy of dutiable goods at Gatwick Airport. After an internal investigation identified a large-scale theft by a number of employees, the company approached Sussex Police for assistance.