Corrupt police vehicle worker facing jail after being found guilty of fraud

Samantha Cooper.
Samantha Cooper.

A corrupt police worker is facing jail along with a garage owner who she helped to secure lucrative vehicle recovery contracts from West Yorkshire police

A jury was told how Samantha Cooper, of Highfield Road, Wakefield, abused her position to help Michael Blamire, of Wakefield Road, Ossett, “look like the cleverest boy in the class” when he tendered bids to the force for vehicle recovery work.

Cooper, 48, and Blamire, 49, found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by abuse of position following a four-week trial at Leeds Crown Court.

The jury heard Cooper was the manager of West Yorkshire Police’s vehicle recovery unit at the time of the offending, which occurred during 2011.

Mark Monaghan, prosecuting, told the jury how West Yorkshire Police have responsibility for the recovery of seized vehicles or those that have crashed, been abandoned or broken down on public roads.

Vehicles are recovered using tow trucks or low loaders and are either taken back to the owner, auctioned off or scrapped.

Mr Monaghan explained that the West Yorkshire force did not use their own staff to recover vehicles but used the services of different garages across the county.

Up until 2012 the force used a management company to organise vehicle recovery and deal with the garages.

The prosecutor said a decision was taken not to use the services of the management company but to make vehicle recovery arrangements in-house.

The process involved dividing the force into ten areas and then inviting garage owner to put in bids for the contracts for each different area.

As manager of the vehicle recovery unit, Cooper was in charge of organising the tendering process.

The prosecutor said Cooper abused her position by helping her friend Michael Blamire, and his late father Mick Blamire, who were the proprietors of Bridge Garage, in Ossett, near Wakefield.

Mr Monaghan said: “Samatha Cooper helped Bridge Garage - Michael and Mick Bridge - to put in a very impressive bid.

“In fact it was the most impressive bid from any garage, which enabled them to win three contracts, which resulted in a very substantial increase in their turnover and profits.

“She did this by writing out the tender documents for them and giving what she had prepared to Bridge Garage so they could prepare the documents they were sending to West Yorkshire Police.”

The jury was told that during the tendering process, Bridge Garage was given a score of 87 per cent. The next best score by any a garage competing for contracts was 64 per cent.

Mr Monaghan said: “It was as if she set an exam and gave her friends the answers to the exam. So that when they took the exam they appeared to be the cleverest boy in the class by a long way.

“Bridge Garage got an A-star and the next garage in the class got a B.”

Mr Monaghan added: “When Samantha Cooper and Michael Blamire did that, that was an abuse of Samantha Cooper’s position as the manager of the department.

“She was hijacking what was supposed to be a fair, transparent process.

“Instead of that they were ensuring that Bridge Garage got the best markets and won contracts worth a lot of money.”

The court heard how Cooper’s laptop was seized when she fell under suspicion. It was discovered that she had sent sections of the tendering process documents from her work e-mail account to her own personal e-mail account and then forwarded them to Blamire.

The case was adjourned for reports and Cooper, of Highfield Road, Overton, Wakefield, and Blamire, of Wakefield Road, Ossett, will be sentenced later this month.

Judge Christopher Batty told the pair: “The real probability is a custodial sentence.”