Garage owner facing jail for 'hijacking' of police contracts

A GARAGE owner from Ossett faces jail for subverting West Yorkshire Police’s tendering process.

Michael Blamire, 49, of Wakefield Road, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by abuse of position.

Co-accused Samantha Cooper was convicted of the same charge at a Leeds Crown Court trial.

Cooper, 48, of Wakefield, was the manager of the police’s vehicle recovery unit in 2011 and filled in tendering documents for Blamire.

She also supplied information that helped his business gain unfair advantage in the bid process.

Mark Monaghan, prosecuting, said the recovery of seized vehicles or those that have crashed, broken down or been abandoned was put out to tender.

The force area was split into 10 zones and garage owners were asked to bid for those contracts.

Cooper abused her position by helping her friend Blamire and his late father, Mick Blamire.

Mr Monaghan said that as a result, their Bridge Garage on Bradford Road in Ossett won three contracts.

Turnover and profits rose substantially from the “hijacking” of what was supposed to be a fair and transparent process.

The jury was told Bridge Garage scored 87 per cent in analysis of their bid – the next best was 64 per cent.

Mr Monaghan said: “It was as if she had set an exam and gave her friends the answers...

“So when they took the exam they appeared to be the cleverest boy in the class by a long way.

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

The court heard Cooper’s laptop computer was seized when the bid procedures fell under suspicion.

It was found she sent sections of the tendering documents from her work e-mail to her own private e-mail and then forwarded them to Blamire.

Mr Monaghan said: “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 case was adjourned for reports. Judge Christopher Batty warned Blamire and Cooper that they face custodial sentences.

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