A SCRAP yard manager has avoided jail after he admitted dealing in stolen metal when he was caught in a police sting.

Paul Lever, aged 48, was arrested following a police "day of action", when nearly 400 officers raided businesses across Greater Manchester in Operation Alloy last May.

Lever was working at Chadwicks in Oakenbottom Road, Breightmet, when he was arrested on suspicion of attempting to receive stolen goods and three counts of money laundering.

Lever, of Beaumont Chase, off Wigan Road, admitted the crimes, but avoided going to jail immediately.

Judge Timothy Stead gave him a ten month jail sentence suspended for two years, with 200 hours of unpaid work, and he was also ordered to pay a £100 victim surcharge.

In the same raids, police also swooped on J Doyle Ltd in Manchester Road, Chequerbent, and P&G Metals in Darbishire Street, Bolton, last year along with five homes, and six people were arrested.

Nobody at Chadwicks was arrested during the raid but Lever was arrested later.

Ch Insp Carol Martin, from Bolton police, said: “We have had a lot of success in tackling metal theft, however, we know thieves believe they can still off-load stolen metal onto scrap yards.

“Anyone who knowingly accepts stolen goods or pays cash for metal makes it easy for thieves to get rid of stolen metal, such as railway cable or phone lines.

"It creates a market for thieves to prosper while causing disruption and hardship to the public.

“Lever knowingly accepted stolen metal on several occasions and so contributed to this cycle of criminality.

“The majority of scrap yards in Bolton and across Greater Manchester have taken on board new legislation and worked with the police and partners to create a hostile environment for anyone trying to sell stolen metal, however, there are a minority that continue to flout the law.”

Ch Insp Martin said she hopes the sentence will come as a warning to others tempted to buy stolen metal.

A further 20 suspects charged with a variety of crimes as part of the day of action of Operation Alloy will appear in court over the next six months.