Page last updated at 20:58 GMT, Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Man jailed over eBay stolen goods

Michael Kavanagh
Michael Kavanagh bought luxury cars and enjoyed exotic holidays

A Devon man who ran a gang of thieves across the south west of England and had a "factory" selling stolen goods on eBay has been jailed for three years.

Michael Kavanagh, from Barnstaple, sold thousands of goods through the website.

He used the money to buy cars including a Lincoln stretch limousine and to pay off loans and to go on exotic holidays, Exeter Crown Court heard.

The 38-year-old admitted eight offences of converting criminal proceeds under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

The court heard that for two years he ran a gang of drug-addicted shoplifters whom he would transport to Cornwall, Devon and Somerset to steal from major retail outlets.

He would then sell the items, which ranged from computer software and cosmetics to pregnancy kits and smoke alarms, through his accounts on the auction website eBay.

Devon and Cornwall Police worked with eBay staff during a covert operation and when they raided Kavanagh's home in November 2007 they found 5,000 stolen goods being processed for onward sale.

Massive profit

Exeter Crown Court heard that in total Kavanagh made around 100,000 from the scam.

He was helped by Emma Hewitt, from Fremington, Devon, who ran the operation in his absence, the court was told.

The 25-year-old was jailed for 12 months after admitting theft and five charges of converting criminal property.

Judge Paul Darlow told her: "You straddled the operation both stealing from shops and being trusted to run the operation."

Three other members of his scam, all from Devon, pleaded guilty to theft.

Wayne Rogerson, 28, from South Molton, and Richard Harrison, 38, from Barnstaple, were jailed for 12 months. Melissa Barker, 35, also from Barnstaple, was sentenced to 36 weeks in jail suspended for two years.

Richard Ambrose, eBay spokesman, said the company annually spends 6m policing its auction website.

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