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A man who fled from Kent to Thailand after being arrested for helping steal and sell on top of the range cars has been jailed for five years.
Paul John Stone, formerly of Grecian Street in Maidstone, left the country while out on bail in 2006.
In a letter, read out to the judge at what should have been his first court appearance, the 46 year old said he had left the country for good and would not be returning to ‘face the music’.
He was tracked down to Koh Samui in 2007, and extradited back to the UK in September, after serving a a two-year prison sentence there for a theft conviction.
Stone was part of a gang which stole high value vehicles including Porsches, Mercedes, and BMWs, during burglaries in Kent and the Home Counties. The cars were cloned onto false number plates and then sold through a car sales magazine to unsuspecting victims.
Kent Police believe that more than 150 cars, worth in excess of £2million were stolen and sold by Stone and his two associates.
Seventy vehicles were recovered, worth in excess of £1.25million as part of the Kent Police investigation.
Sentencing him at Maidstone Crown Court, Judge Carey said Stone "held a central role in a sophisticated criminal enterprise" and that he “fled the country, not having the courage to stand trial”.
Stone was sentenced to three-and-a-half years for the conspiracy to steal and dispose of motor vehicles.
He was also given six months for breaching bail conditions by fleeting to Thailand, and a further 12 months for money transfers by deception. These related to an advert he placed in a newspaper where he advertised his former marital home for rent, to which he had no control. He was estranged from his wife.
He took £3,000 in deposits from victims who paid £1,000 each.
Detective Constable Geoff Cloke, part of Kent and Essex’s joint Serious Crime Directorate, said: "Kent Police has worked hard to extradite Stone from his haven in paradise and bring him before the courts.
"Stone’s crime was not victimless. His accomplices faced the judicial system and have served their sentences, and it is right that he too faces the consequences of his deception.
"This case reflects the determination of Kent Police to ensure those who break law are brought before the courts to face justice. There is nowhere to hide."