Four members of the same family have been guilty of fraud at a Gwynedd bus firm.
The owner of Express Motors, Eric Wyn Jones, and his three sons, Ian Wyn, Keith and Kevin, have been told to expect jail sentences – they were convicted of swindling thousands of pounds in public money by claiming fake bus trips.
All four men denied the charges but were found guilty by a jury following a four-week trial at Caernarfon Crown Court.
Express Motors, based in Penygroes, lost its licence to run public buses at the end of last year. The Traffic Commissioner for Wales ruled the company had falsified some of its maintenance records.
During the trial, the court heard the men had paid themselves over £500,000 by using lost or stolen concessionary bus passes for over 60s.
They claimed 88,000 fake trips and then claimed the cash from Gwynedd County Council, who themselves claimed back from the Welsh Government’s concessionary travel scheme.
One of the passes was said to have been used for 23,000 bogus journeys, while another pass was still being used after its owner died.
Prosecutors said the four men had regularly made cash payments into their personal bank accounts. Express Motors took in over £1.2 million during a fifteen-month period, but only £690,000 was paid back into the company’s own account.
Eric Wyn Jones, who paid over £30,000 to himself was accused of putting over £100,000 into an account for a gambling website.
But during the trial, he blamed the county council for not cancelling the lost or stolen passses, which allowed them to still be used on his buses.
He claimed the family had ”no need to fiddle” and accused the local authority of wanting to believe his company was defrauding them following a similar case involving a local operator. The defence claimed the case was based on ”supposition and speculation.”
It took three days for the jury to return its verdict. Before the trial started, a fifth man – Rheinallt Williams (44) from Deiniolen – pleaded guilty to making false representation to make a financial gain.
Following Tuesday’s verdict, Judge Timothy Pitts told the men they had been convicted of fleecing Gwynedd County Council, adding: ”Clearly only one sentence can be imposed for offences of this nature and that is a custodial sentence.”
They were released on bail ahead of sentencing, expected to take place at the end of October.