CPU thieves not 'bit players'

Three men were sentence in court last week for their parts in a serries of computer parts burglaries

THREE MEN SENTENCED to prison earlier this month for the theft of CPUs and hard drives last year were the main players and not bit players in a larger crime ring, say police.

Lawyer Lester Cordwell, acting for accused Eric McCall, said at the trial the three suspects —Jonathon Weight, Christian Beavon and McCall — "are the tip of the iceberg", suggesting they were part of a crime ring which has not been brought to justice. Beavon's lawyer Jeremy Bioletti also claimed "the situation is wider than the people in court".

In May 1998 Auckland police executed 28 search warrants in Auckland, Tauranga, Taupo and Rotorua, recovering $50,000 worth of stolen goods from a house in Taupo. Weight, Beavon and McCall were found guilty of $600,000 worth of theft from resellers and distributors Electronic Resources, JDI, TPG, Insite Technology and Arche Technology, and were sentenced on September 10 for the burglaries, receiving stolen goods and possession of a pistol.

Earlier in the case, Bioletti said, the police had approached him and asked if Beavon would cooperate as a witness on other charges. "But [Beavon would not because] that would mean getting into the witness protection area. My client accepts responsibility for what he did, but I have clear instructions [from him] that there were more people involved — people heavier than himself."

Beavon had drug debts and found himself in "a world he doesn't have the ability to cope with". McCall, too, became "associated with a group he wouldn't normally", said Cordwell. However, Detective Simon Williamson of Onehunga Police says after a "complex and substantive investigation", the police were satisfied with the charges laid. "All the evidence we uncovered pointed to them."

In sentencing Weight and Beavon, Judge Lance QC agreed with the police view. He recognised that "there were others involved who have not been brought to court, but I cannot accept that you were bit players". They had known the value of what they were stealing and had planned sophisticated burglaries, he said.

The two were sentenced to three-and-a-half years for each burglary (three counts for Weight and two for Beavon), with six months off in recognition of their guilty pleas. Weight also received six months for the possession of a firearm, unconnected with the burglaries. The sentences are to be served concurrently.

McCall was, the judge said, in a different category to Weight and Beavon. At 44 he had no previous convictions and until the time of the burglaries had run a successful, apparently honest computer consulting and reseller business. He was given a suspended sentence of two years, with six months off for his guilty plea, for two burglaries which he had helped to plan, 18 months for receiving stolen goods and seven months periodic detention. His sentences are to be concurrent.

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