Good references keep Wisbech scrap dealer out of jail
A scrap dealer who paid undercover police for cable he believed had been stolen has been spared jail because of impressive personal references.
Bernard Porter, 62, of Old Field Lane, Wisbech, admitted six offences of attempting to convert criminal property between April and August last year.
Recorder Gabrielle Posner said she was "very impressed" with his references, which mentioned his charity work.
She gave Porter a 12-month community order of 200 hours' unpaid work.
Prosecutor Sally Hobson said undercover officers had gone to Porter's scrapyard six times offering BT and EDF cabling as part of Cambridgeshire Police's Operation Hapsford, targeting the trade in stolen goods.
Porter offered a price substantially below the trade value of the cable and believed it was stolen when he bought it, she said.
Officers were told by members of staff "there would always be a home for them at his scrapyard", added Miss Hobson.
The covert officers were offered amounts ranging from £60 to £160.
Recorder Gabrielle Posner told Porter she had decided not to impose a custodial sentence after reading his "glowing" references.
She said: "I am very, very impressed with these letters from so many people in the local community.
"They are not standard. People have sat down and thought a great deal before writing them and they are a great tribute.
"These letters have convinced me that this case doesn't cross the custody threshold."
She added that Porter "seems to be a kind-hearted person who consistently does good and charitable works".