12 years for 'Mr Nasty' of business


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A plant hire boss who boasted about his nastiness and used arson and intimidation to frighten off his rivals has been jailed for 12 years.
Jack Frederick Leonard Harvey tormented plant hire companies for years, torching hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of machinery in Devon and Cornwall and handling stolen items that he later disguised as his own.
Police said he used intimidation and threats to evade justice, believing his name alone was enough to frighten off potential witnesses.
Harvey, of Polwhele in Truro, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for seven counts of arson following his three-week trial at Truro Crown Court earlier this summer. Two accomplices, Alan James Dunn and Allan Percy Peters, both from Truro, were jailed for seven years each for their roles in the offending.
But Harvey returned to court yesterday and admitted nine handing offences, allowing Judge Paul Darlow to lift the postponing order preventing press coverage.
Speaking outside the court, Det Supt Michele Slevin said: "For many years Jack Harvey has believed he is above the law and could never be caught.
"He used intimidation and threats to secure contracts and build his business on the proceeds of crime. I am very pleased that his organisation has been dismantled."
Harvey's family-run plant hire business, on the outskirts of Truro, has been in operation for decades. But police said it was founded on dishonesty, threats and violence.
Harvey was the ringleader responsible for torching several items of expensive machinery, including a fleet of Cormac trucks belonging to the then-Cornwall County Council which had been parked overnight on school grounds.
Other companies, including Tetlaw of Newton Abbot and Willshire of Newquay, were targeted, leaving them with combined compensation claims of £1 million-plus.
Boastful Harvey described himself as a "nasty b******" as he tried to regain contracts to carry out work for all of West Cornwall's road repair work, which he had lost through the county council's tendering process.
When he was unable to do this by intimidation he resorted to recruiting associates who then travelled around the Devon and Cornwall area – including Copplestone, near Crediton, Newton Abbot, Liskeard, Truro and Camborne – setting fire to machines belonging to competitors in an effort to disable the companies.
In one fire, started at the Truro Football Club, the plant operators from Tetlaw were asleep in a nearby van as their machinery went up in flames.
The court heard evidence of how in relation to the first offence at Axminster, a threat was made to Tetlaw head office shortly after the offence stating: "We didn't do a very good job this time, we'll make sure we do it properly next time."
In May 2009, police sprang operation Sebulba, which involved more than 100 Devon and Cornwall police officers launching a 48-hour raid on Harvey's premises.
Police joined forces with the Environment Agency, HMRC, the local authority, and the National Plant and Equipment Register as part of the raid, where officers later discovered more than 40 stolen plant vehicles.
The cargo included articulated trailers and dumper trucks, taken from companies across Britain and handled by Harvey. Police said he even passed off some of the equipment as his own, respraying the bodywork to hide another company's logo.
It was during the search that officers found approximately £15,000 in cash, and two-and-a-half kilos of heroin, with a street value of £250,000.
Harvey's son, Jack Harvey Junior, was later described by police as "one of the most significant players in the drugs network in Cornwall", and sentenced to five years in prison in October last year.
The investigation also uncovered a blackmail offence, which the judge ruled would lie on Harvey Senior's file.
His daughter, Deborah Harvey, was charged with the same offence and handed a caution by the court.
At Truro Crown Court yesterday, a frail-looking Harvey admitted nine counts of handling stolen goods, committed between October 2003 and July 2008. The remaining 30 counts will also lie on file.
Ms Slevin added: "This has been a painstaking and difficult operation to dismantle. His organised crime activities show that by working in partnership, we can bring organised criminals to account."
Harvey will return to court next month to be sentenced for handing stolen goods. A compensation hearing will also be heard on this date.
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