Operation GUIDE

Illegal Clamper make over £1/2 million

An unlicensed Bedfordshire wheel clamper made over half a million pounds during a six year period.Tommy Rice knew he couldn't run his business without one but, fearing he would be turned down because of his previous convictions, he continued to operate without a licence.

A court heard that cash paid over to clampers employed by Rice never passed through bank accounts.Some was used to pay wages to the men, but the rest went to fund Rice's extravagant lifestyle, Luton crown court was told today (Fri).

Rice, 42, of Bedford Road, Wilstead, appeared in custody in court today to admit a charge of acquiring criminal property.Judge David Farrell QC was told Rice ran his wheel clamping business called Paragon Security service Ltd from Home Farm in Cardington.

Paragon carried out work on behalf of local authorities and housing associations in London.Paperwork and record keeping at the company was described in court today as "sloppy" but it was a complaint from a member of the public about about the way a Paragon clamper had dealt with him, that led to the firm being investigated by the Security Industries Authority.

It was discovered little in the way of VAT was being paid and Rice was paying nothing in the way of tax on his income.When asked by the SIA about his license, Rice was said to have "blustered" and put forward names of previous employees but who were no longer with the company.The prosecutor went on "Half a million pounds is involved in this case."Records of what cars had been clamped could only be found for a period from October 2005 through to March 2006. Even so, in that period, £144,000 had been paid in cash to Paragon clampers.

Mr Matthew said that while some had been paid to employees as wages, the bulk of the money had gone to Rice and associates.Inquiries into Rice's business affairs continued and he then became the subject of an investigation by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit, a dedicated police team looking at organised crime in Herts, Beds, Cambs, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.Rice was arrested in February 2011 and the extent of his illicit clamping was uncovered by the unit's asset recovery team.It was discovered Rice had used £175,000 of the cash he was receiving from the clamping activities of Paragon to buy a bungalow near St Neots with his friend Paul Willett, 42, from Milton Keynes.The property had been the subject of a £75.000 mortgage application in the name of Willet which was found to be fraudulent.Last autumn Willet received a suspended sentence.

Passing sentence today, Judge Farrell told Rice he knew full well there was a "statutory requirement" for him to obtain a license to run Paragon as a business."It's clear to me you knew you would not be granted a license because of your convictions for dishonesty and violence."

The judge said the licensing of clamping businesses had been brought in because of the public's concerns over "cowboy clampers."Judge Farrell said while it wawas not suggested Rice's business had been a cowboy clamping operation, the licenses were there to protect the public.

"You went on to run the business with no license and no protection for the public and you were the guiding person in all this."The judge said the total amount of money paid to Paragon had been in the region of half a million pounds which he said was a "significant amount of cash."He went on "This was deliberate, well planned and committed for your self enrichment. was jailed for 27 months.

After the case, Det Con Peter Hunt of the Eastern Region Asset Recovery Team said "We have disrupted a member of an organised criminal group operating in and around Bedfordshire and using illicit wheel clamping as a front for their activities''.

Convicted

Tommy Rice

Tommy Rice

2 years 3 months

Operations