A SCRAP metal dealer, who threatened to shoot a witness if he gave evidence against him has been jailed for four years 10 months for handling stolen goods and theft.

Thomas Smith, 35, of Meadow Street, Great Harwood, pleaded guilty to stealing a £25,000 HGV from North Wales and handling a £350 Mercedes and a £15,000 blue Scania wagon.

He also pleaded guilty to witness intimidation at Preston Crown Court.

Smith was arrested after police raided his scrapyard on Decem-ber 14 last year and discovered the Mercedes and the Scania wagon, which had been stolen from Derbyshire and West Yorkshire.

During the investigation, Smith intimidated one of the main witnesses in the case, arranging for him to receive several threatening phone calls.

On October 3, Smith visited the man at his work in Derbyshire where he threatened to shoot him and his family if he attended court to give evidence. He was arrested and remanded into custody.

DS Ian Proctor from Acc-rington CID said: “The sentence not only reflects the extent of his offending but also the impact his campaign of intimidation had against a principal witness, which made this whole case infinitely more serious.

“I would like to thank the witnesses involved for their courage in attending going to court to give evidence.

“The impact of his behaviour has had a profound effect on a number of victims, who not only have suffered serious financial loss but has also impacted on their normal family life.

“I hope this case acts as a warning to offenders who think they are above the law. The police will relentlessly pursue those who are involved in crime and we will do everything in our power to target them and bring them to justice.”

A further two men, 28-year-old Shaun Smith, from Oswald Street, Accrington and 51-year-old Alfred Kyme, from Black-wood Road, Bacup, will be sentenced on February 1. Smith pleaded guilty to theft and Kyme pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.