Brothers made £100k selling stolen bike parts from Chain Reaction Cycles
Two Co Antrim brothers have been sentenced for selling over £100,000 worth of stolen parts and accessories from a leading Northern Ireland bicycle retail outlet.
Brian James Bowen (36), of Oakwood Road, Carrickfergus, was jailed for six months after he admitted selling more than £88,000 worth of bike parts online over a six-month period from October 2012.
His younger brother Alan Bowen (33), of Sunningdale Crescent in Carrickfergus, was handed an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, for selling almost £14,000 of the stolen goods over a four-month period up to August 2013.
Prosecuting counsel Philip Henry told Belfast Crown Court that Chain Reaction Cycles noticed "a significant loss of its stock" from its warehouse in Carrickfergus.
The company discovered that four traders on eBay were selling bicycle parts similar to those it believed to be missing from its stock and a company director decided to do a test purchase.
After the matter was reported to police, Alan Bowen's fingerprints were found on the bubble wrap of the packaging. Detectives discovered that £88,645 had been deposited via PayPal into the Halifax bank account of Brian Bowen's mother Valerie.
When she returned from holiday and was interviewed by police, she denied all knowledge of the money.
Her son later told police that she was acting "under duress" by him who "put her under pressure" to use her account and he would then withdraw the money.
Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland heard that Alan Bowen also used two trade names on eBay and used his girlfriend's bank account to have the money from sales deposited into it from PayPal.
Mr Henry said that in the case of Brian Bowen, the aggravating factors included the "high value" of the transactions and loss to Chain Reaction Cycles and the "repetitive nature of the transactions", saying the goods stolen were in a price range from £10 up to £245 for a set of bicycle pedals.
Brian Bowen's defence counsel Johnny Brown said his client made the case that he bought the stolen goods at a "car boot sale" and said all the items he bought were in plain packaging with no barcodes.
"He should not have got involved in this and should have realised after a while that the items were stolen. It was not a sophisticated form of offending and was easily detected by Chain Reaction Cycles and the police."
Mr Brown added that during "candid" admissions to the Probation Service, Bowen said that he made a profit of one-third on the £88,000 that flowed through his mother's bank account.
Defence barrister Paul Bacon said Alan Bowen told probation that he made around £10,000 profit on the £14,000 deposited into his girlfriend's bank account.
"There is no evidence to suggest that he was close to anyone involved in the thefts of these items," added Mr Bacon.
Judge McFarland told the brothers: "I am satisfied there is sufficient proximity between you and the sale of these stolen goods.
"I just don't accept that these items were randomly purchased at a car boot sale. I don't know the exact relationship between you and the person who stole the items but it is clear it was a mutually beneficial relationship."
Jailing Brian Bowen for six months, the judge said he would spend a further six months on supervised licence following his release.
Suspending Alan Bowen's eight-month sentence, Judge McFarland warned him that if he committed any further offences in the next two years he would be brought back to court and the "eight month sentence may be put into operation".