UK – Earlier this month, a court in Birmingham ordered the seizure of £1.33 million found hidden in the home of 56 year old Phillip Harthill by officers investigating the death of HGV driver Bogdan Bartczak following a robbery of his truck containing LG televisions with an estimated value of £250,000. The seizure is the biggest ever forfeiture through the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) after it was agreed that the money found should be considered to be the proceeds of haulage theft. DS Jonathan Jones from the Economic Crime Unit, who led the seizure application, said:
"This is an excellent outcome and demonstrates that police, supported by the courts, will use the Proceeds of Crime Act to confiscate any assets that have been obtained by criminal activity. This result is the biggest cash forfeiture West Midlands Police has ever achieved and represents a serious blow to the criminal finances of Harthill and his associates.”
Bartczak’s lorry was found stripped of its contents at Vectra Industrial Estate in Whites Road, West Bromwich in November 2010. Nine offenders were found guilty in connection with the robbery in January and, of the nine, Harthill’s son Phillip Harthill Junior was sentenced to eight years for robbery and handling stolen goods. The others also received sentences ranging from two years detention up to eight years for a range of offences including robbery and handling stolen property but were also questioned regarding the manslaughter of the 57 year old lorry driver.
The lifeless body of Polish trucker Bogdan Bartczak was found in Dudley on Monday 1st November 2010 seven miles away from where his empty vehicle, bearing the name of now dissolved company JW Logistics, was found at 10am on the same day, indicating the robbery had occurred some time over that weekend. Post-mortem results were unable to determine the cause of death but police suspect that Bartczak died from a heart attack. Despite the cash found at his address after intense questioning Harthill was released without charge.
Photo: The abandoned lorry was found seven miles from the body of its deceased driver.