Gardaí launch hunt for factory owners
Two Englishmen who set up a manufacturing unit on Wexford’s Industrial Estate and disappeared after just twelve weeks are being sought by Gardaí.
The men [NAMES WITHELD] are believed to be in Brazil. The factory, Leigh Enterprises Ltd., was stripped of all fittings and machinery just hours before they disappeared.
A spokesperson for the Industrial Development Authority said this week the men had not applied for, nor been given, assistance under the Small Industries Scheme. He added however that the two had made ‘extensive’ inquiries about grants available since they arrived in Wexford just a few months ago.
The Leigh Enterprise concern centred around the assembly of mobile catering units, and parts were brought in from Britain for assembly. According to the IDA, the men intended to start actual fabrication later, employing up to fifteen people.
However, up to their lightning disappearance last week, only one person was employed – a 17-year-old from Talbot Green in Wexford – and his father learned last week that the sole workman had not had PAYE or PRSI contributions paid on his behalf.
The father hit out this week at what he described as ‘a scandal’.
The man, who is himself a self-employed panel beater, also told how he had loaned the factory an electric circular saw and a two and a half tonne hydraulic jack. ‘ There were taken away too when the factory was cleared out. I am finding it impossible to carry out my own work without them,’ he said.
The factory the men rented on the Industrial Estate was privately owned. It formerly houses the Glindon Tree Confectionery Unit, where bubble gum was made for export up to three years ago.
One of the man who has now fled lived with his wife in a rented house in Rosslare, while the other had taken rented accommodation in Screen.
The factory they had rented had been completely refurbished for them by a local firm, whose proprietor revealed this week that a sum of approximately £1,500 due for the work is still outstanding.
Other outstanding accounts due to local businesses by Leigh Enterprises are understood to amount to more than £4,000.
A spokesman for Wexford Gardaí said on Tuesday they ‘ knew well’ about the case and were trying to trace the whereabouts of the two men.
‘It is proving difficult because they have left very little trace of themselves behind, but we are 99% confident they left the country by taking the passenger ferry from Rosslare Harbour,’ the spokesman said.
He added that it is further believed that the men may have then flown from the UK to the USA, and on from there to Brazil.
He said that Gardaí ‘ have not ruled out’ seeking the assistance of Interpol in the case.