THREE MEN convicted of industrial scale tachograph manipulation and money laundering offences have been sentenced to a total of nine years in prison at Preston Crown Court.

The convictions were secured following a lengthy and complex investigation by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and Lancashire Police.

The men produced, supplied and fitted sophisticated tachograph interrupter devices to trucks allowing them to avoid taking breaks and to drive for longer than was legal.

Darren Millington, 52 of Hinstock, Shrops; Stephen Young, 55, of Wolverhampton and Benjamin Hayton, 43, of Leyland, Lancs were all convicted in March 2019 following a five week trial at Preston. Each was convicted of one count of conspiracy to falsify drivers’ records and one count of money laundering.

The fraud first came to light when DVSA traffic examiners stopped a lorry near the M6 in Lancashire and found that the tachograph safety device had been illegally modified.

Following an intelligence led investigation and execution of search warrants, evidence was found that linked Millington, Young and Hayton to the production, supply and fitting of sophisticated tachograph recording interrupter devices to heavy goods vehicles. Millington was procurer of the devices, Young designed them, and Hayton helped design them and fitted them for up to £1,500 each.

Hayton fitted at least one device to a vehicle belonging to the company S Bamford International Ltd, of Preston. During the investigation DVSA discovered that two drivers for S Bamford International had falsely recorded rest periods more than 630 times in three months. This allowed them to drive their vehicles for long periods of time without taking the required breaks or daily and weekly rest periods.

The two drivers of Bamford’s vehicles appeared before Preston Magistrates Court where they plead guilty to knowingly recording false data on various dates. They were then sent to Preston Crown Court for sentencing, where they each received a suspended prison term and community order.

At separate public inquiries in front of a Traffic Commissioner, S Bamford lost his commercial vehicle operator’s licence and the drivers lost their vocational driving licences.