A SCRAP metal merchant convicted after a sting by undercover police has had his name cleared today.

Joseph Smith, of Smiths of Bloxham scrap merchants, was convicted of attempting to convert criminal property and hit with a £1,750 fine, and a £2,500 costs order, at Oxford Crown Court in December last year.

Between December 2011 and May 2012, undercover officers had visited the yard 33 times offering metal for sale, which they claimed Mr Smith bought, believing it to be stolen, although in fact it was not.

Mr Smith, 25, of Milton Road, Adderbury, denied any wrongdoing.

And today, Lord Justice Davis, Mrs Justice Thirlwall and Mrs Justice Andrews, sitting at London's Criminal Appeal Court, overturned his conviction.

The court heard how the undercover cops offered stripped power cable and a vehicle to Mr Smith at his scrap yard which he bought.

He was later arrested and prosecuted on the basis that he had understood the goods to be stolen - although they were in fact not - but had proceeded with the purchases nevertheless.

Mr Smith's lawyers today pinpointed flaws in the trial judge's directions to the jury relating to his state of mind at the time.

Allowing the appeal, Mrs Justice Thirlwall said jurors could have been left in doubt as to "the mental element required for a criminal offence."

Crown lawyers made no application for a retrial.

Thames Valley Police spokesman Chris Kearney said: “Thames Valley Police accepts the decision made by the Court of Appeal today and will now review the investigation to see what learning can be taken and implemented from this.”

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