Oxford

Police review Oxfordshire scrap merchant inquiry

Police are reviewing an investigation after a man they visited 33 times as part of an undercover sting had his conviction overturned.

Joseph Smith, of Smiths of Bloxham scrap merchants, was convicted at Oxford Crown Court of attempting to convert criminal property.

He was prosecuted after Thames Valley Police officers sold him metal they claimed Mr Smith believed to be stolen.

However London's Court of Appeal exonerated Mr Smith, 25.

A Thames Valley Police spokeswoman said the force accepted the decision.

She said: "[We] will now review the investigation to see what learning can be taken and implemented from this."

Flawed directions

The Court of Appeal heard undercover police offered stripped power cable and a vehicle to Mr Smith at his scrap yard, which he bought.

Between December 2011 and May 2012, officers visited the yard 33 times offering metal for sale.

They claimed Mr Smith, of Milton Road, Adderbury, bought the metal believing it to be stolen, although it was not.

Mr Smith denied any wrongdoing.

He was arrested and prosecuted on the basis he had understood the goods to be stolen but had proceeded with the purchases anyway.

He was sentenced to a £1,750 fine and given a £2,500 costs order.

Mr Smith's lawyers pinpointed flaws in the trial judge's directions to the jury at the time.

Crown lawyers made no application for a retrial.

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