Rana Dhaia, owner of Townsend Poultry in Wolverhampton, together with Darren Williams and Elliot Smith – both dispatch managers employed by 2 Sisters at its Llangefni plant – conspired together to commit the fraud, according to the Crown Prosecution Service.
During an audit at the now-closed 2 Sisters factory on Anglesey, it came to light that Williams and Smith had been supplying Townsend Poultry with chicken, the CPS said.
Townsend Poultry was not a customer of 2 Sisters Food Group and there were no records of any deliveries. However, enquiries made with local hauliers used by 2 Sisters confirmed there had been 84 deliveries from Llangefni to Townsend Poultry, worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Williams and Smith were found to have destroyed the records of those deliveries – which could have had “far-reaching implications due to traceability issues if they had not been caught”, according to detective constable David Hall of the North Wales Police Economic Crime Unit.
Dhaia, who had pleaded not guilty to acquiring criminal property, was convicted after a trial at Caernarfon Crown Court in October. He was sentenced last week to four years and three months in prison.
Williams and Smith both pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position and were sentenced last week to two years’ imprisonment suspended for two years each. Williams will be required to undertake 300 hours unpaid work, while Smith is required to undertake 250.
The three defendants had taken advantage of their positions within the two companies to defraud 2 Sisters, said crown advocate Emmalyne Downing.
“Fraud cases can be complex; the Crown Prosecution Service worked closely with the economic crime unit at North Wales Police and the Food Standards Agency in Wales to build a strong case against the defendants. The evidence presented resulted in all three being convicted”.
The sentences were welcomed by Andrew Quinn, head of the FSA’s National Food Crime Unit. “This sends a strong deterrent message to those considering committing food crimes. I want to thank the CPS and North Wales Police for their excellent work in securing these convictions. Together, we are stronger in the fight against food fraud and we continue to work with partners to help ensure that consumers are protected,” he said.
2 Sisters said it was “satisfied with the outcome of this case and it sends a clear message that such activity will not be tolerated at our business”.
The processor added: ”It took a close partnership approach with all agencies to bring about these convictions and we are grateful for all the efforts everyone made in the run up to the court case.
”We would also like to thank the vigilance of our own internal teams who originally uncovered this theft and the critical role they played in bringing about this prosecution.”