A COMPANY boss and a lorry driver teamed up to steal thousands of pounds worth of stock from a steel firm in a “complex theft”.

Tata Steel manager Michael Sheppard and Matthew Pritchard pinched steel coils from its Llanwern site in Newport.

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Cardiff Crown Court heard how they were driven away by Pritchard who worked for Newport’s MCL Logistics.

Meirion Davies, prosecuting, said the steel coils probably ended up being sold to a scrap dealer in the West Midlands.


He told the court: “The victim in this case is Tata Steel based in Llanwern. Newport haulage firm MCL Logistics was contracted to move steel coils from one part of the site to another.

“Matthew Pritchard was an employee with MCL and worked as a shunter lorry driver.

“Michael Sheppard was an employee of Tata. He was a deputy shift manager who also operated machinery concerning steel coils.”

Following an internal company inquiry, it was discovered stock worth £25,000 was missing with an investigation pointing the finger of blame at the two defendants.

Sheppard, 45, of Islwyn Street, Abercarn, admitted the theft of two steel coils worth £12,500.

Pritchard, 43, of Kingsland Walk, St Dials, Cwmbran, pleaded guilty to stealing four steel coils worth £25,000.

The offences took place towards the end of 2018.

Mr Davies added: “There may have been others involved. We can suspect but we can’t prove.

“Those who may have gotten away with it are fortunate.”

He said Sheppard was a man of previous good character.

Pritchard had convictions, including theft, but none since 1997.

Before Ben Waters, for Sheppard, and Gareth Williams, representing Pritchard, began their mitigation, Judge Jeremy Jenkins said: “I am going to put the defendants out of their misery.

“I am not going to send them to prison. The thing that has saved them is their guilty pleas and the age of the offences.”

The judge added: “This was a complex way of stealing and it was only discovered thanks to an internal investigation following discrepancies in the books.”

He told Pritchard: “You have relevant convictions but none since 1997. You treat people who employ you with total disdain.”

Judge Jenkins jailed Sheppard for eight months, suspended for 12 months, and ordered him to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.

Pritchard was sent to prison for 12 months, suspended for 12 months, and he must perform 150 hours of unpaid work.

Both defendants have to pay £210 each towards prosecution costs and a victim surcharge.

The pair are due to face a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing on June 25.