News item

Steel beam scammers get suspended sentences

Two Nottinghamshire men who worked for a local steel supply company have been given suspended jail terms for selling structural beams of a lower strength than ordered by customers at Nottingham Crown Court today (7 May 2013).

Lee James, age 42 of Plainspot Road, Brinsley, pleaded guilty to seventeen counts of fraud against customers of Nottingham Steel, one count of theft from the company and two counts of false accounting from February 2010 and May 2011. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 18 months and a 250 hour community punishment order.

Nicholas Densham 31 of Brownlow Drive, Rise Park, Nottingham, pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud from September 2010 to March 2011. He was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 18 months and a 200 hour community punishment order

James, who was a director of Nottingham Steel and had a responsibility for sales and warehouse activities, stole steel beams from the company which he then sold as scrap.

He then attempted to cover his tracks by supplying steel beams of a lower weight and strength than ordered by customers.

The offences first came to the attention of Nottinghamshire County Council in May 2011.

Trading Standards officers carried out an inspection of the premises of the steel business which led to an investigation being undertaken.

Salesman Denham played a lesser role in the criminal activity which was all carried out without the knowledge of the company’s managing director, Glynne Martin.

The case involved 15 customers mainly from the Nottingham area, including construction companies, builders and private homeowners.

Corinne Kennedy purchased two supporting beams from Nottingham Steel for an extension to her Victorian farmhouse in Foston in March 2011. She had to have the beams reinforced after finding out that they did not meet current building regulations.

Corinne said: “This issue set our project back a year and we were living in a caravan on site whilst the works were taking place so it had a devastating impact on our lives.

“Nottingham Steel was absolutely fantastic and paid for the reinforcements once it came to light that the installed beams were not the correct strength.”

The beams supplied to the remaining customers were safe for their building projects but were of a lower strength than ordered. It is common practice for structural engineers to stipulate steel beams of a higher specification than needed so that safety margins are generous.

Nicola Schofield, Trading Standards Manager at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “In addition to James’ personal financial benefit, the actions of the two defendants could have had a serious impact on the safety of their customers and owners who had their buildings constructed using lower strength steel beams.

“Their customers purchased steel beams in good faith which James and Denham exploited with little regard for their safety or reputation.”

Glynne Martin, Nottingham Steel’s managing director, said: “After working closely with Trading Standards and having investigated transactions entered into by these former employees prior to May 2011, we are pleased this matter has been brought to a satisfactory conclusion.

“The company, having been vindicated of any wrong doing can now concentrate on its core objective as it has since 1992, our continued commitment to supply East Midlands industry with certified quality steel products. We wish to thank our many loyal customers for their continued support.”

If anyone has any concerns over structural beams should contact the County Council’s Trading Standards team on 01623 452005.

ENDS


For further information on this press release please contact Peter Saunders, Senior Media Officer at Nottinghamshire County Council on 0115 977 3379 or email peter.saunders@nottscc.gov.uk

DATE: 7 May 2013