When the police raided a barn at a Kenilworth farm, they found evidence of stolen cars worth hundreds of thousands of pounds having been stripped down for their parts.
One of the men, from Coventry, involved in the large-scale conspiracy was traced after his van was found at the barn and his fingerprints were discovered on some of the parts.
And at Warwick Crown Court, Dindar Hassan pleaded guilty to conspiring to handle stolen vehicles.
Hassan (33) of The Coppice, Coventry, who entered his plea on the basis that he was involved for only about two weeks, was given a 12-month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work.
Prosecutor Tim Harrington said: “The position is that there was a very significant conspiracy to steal cars, and a conspiracy to handle a large number of them.
“It had been set up by other people. This defendant was only involved to a limited degree.”
Evidence ‘on the face of the papers’ which suggested Hassan had been involved for longer than set out in his basis of plea had come from the farm owner.
But Mr Harrington pointed out: “His evidence was rejected by the prosecution who consider him not to be a witness of truth.”
Mr Harrington said Hassan had been recruited to the conspiracy by others, and his role was to work on cars for a period of about two weeks, for which he was paid in cash.
He was involved in stripping vehicles worth a total of less than £100,000 in a unit at Rouncil Farm in Rouncil Lane, Kenilworth, which had been rented from the owner by a man called Ali.
“That unit, a barn, was used for cars to be delivered to that had been stolen, and for them to be broken down and the parts sold for profit.
“The shells were simply discarded or given to [farm owner] Mr Tebby, and some were found at Wedgenock Lane Farm, also owned by Mr Tebby who gave conflicting accounts of what he knew.
“He was not co-operative with the prosecution. He was not a man to be trusted or to be believed or relied upon,” Mr Harrington said of the farm owner.
“The defendant was implicated because a Mercedes van which was there was registered to him, and he had also left his prints on a number of car parts.”
As a result, Hassan was linked to a black Mercedes which was stolen after its key was taken in a burglary in Warwickshire; a black Audi A5 taken from outside a house in Ash Green, Coventry; a Range Rover taken from the car park of an Oxfordshire golf club; and a Volvo which had been stolen in August.
Talbir Singh, defending, asked the judge to follow a proposal in a pre-sentence report on Hassan, who he pointed out had no previous convictions.
He said Hassan had always worked since coming to this country from Iraq when he was 17, sending money back to his family when he could.
So when he was approached to help strip down cars, he saw the opportunity to make some more money from what he thought at first would be a legitimate business.
Sentencing Hassan, Recorder David Chinery told him: “You came to this country, and have worked hard and are capable of earning a good, legitimate living for yourself.
“Sometimes if a deal looks too good to be true, it often is too good to be true.”