Men posed as Customs officers to seize Brierley Hill warehouse goods and cash

First published in News

TWO men posed as Customs and Excise officers to try and seize cash and goods from a drinks warehouse in Brierley Hill, a court heard.

Franco Molinari and Shiral Rodrigo produced genuine warrant cards while accomplice Mateusz Zajac pretended to be a security officer with the Revenue, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.

But Kulwant Singh Gora, owner of the Brick Kiln Street warehouse, became suspicious and was able to make a telephone call to his daughter asking her to alert the police.

Officers went to the scene and arrested all three men for what was clearly a well planned offence - Mohammed Hafeez, prosecuting, told the court.

He said the defendants were also in possession of genuine bags used by Customs officers to seize cash and goods when they felt duty had not been paid on the items.

The warehouse contained a "large" amount of alcohol, Mr Hafeez said, which was for distribution to a chain of off-licences and shops in the Brierley Hill area.

The three men informed Mr Gora they were all Customs and Excise men and they had genuine documentation detailing the correct way to conduct a seizure operation.

They told Mr Gora they were making inquiries about the unpaid duty on goods and produced the warrant cards which were real but they did not carry photographs.

Mr Gora became concerned about their visit and he made the call to his daughter in his native tongue telling her to inform the emergency services.

The three defendants expected to make about £700 each from their criminality, said Mr Hafeez - who told the court no items were actually seized from the warehouse.

Molinari, aged 43, of Bakersfield, Nottingham, Rodrigo, aged 26, of Ingleby, Stockton-on-Tees, and 21-year-old Zajac of Tynedale Street, Leicester, all admitted attempted theft.

Rodrigo and Molinari further admitted pretending to be Customs and Excise officers and all three men were remanded on bail until February 25 for pre-sentence reports.

Recorder Kevin Hegarty QC told them it was serious offending and added: "The fact you are getting bail in no way indicates how the court will deal with the matter on the next occasion."

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