A car salesman has avoided jail after cheating the dealership where he worked out of thousands of pounds to try to pay off debts.
Grant Ernest Stiddard defrauded Chippenham Motor Company by taking money from customers and raising false invoices with motor factors between the middle of 2019 and February 2020.
He had admitted fraud at an earlier hearing before Swindon magistrates and appeared at the crown court on March 31 for sentencing.
It was revealed that he joined the dealership after losing his job at a Bristol showroom, as well as his marriage temporarily, when a ‘romantic indiscretion’ there led to a harassment accusation.
The 46-year-old lost his case at a subsequent employment tribunal, reported the Swindon Advertiser. which caused what was labelled as ‘a significant midlife crisis’.
It involved a drug and drink binge that lasted some six months, with Stiddard borrowing heavily as well as running up gambling debts.
The Chippenham job meant a pay cut of some £15,000 per year, which left him with a debt of around £65,000.
Some of the money taken during the ‘hopeless’ scam was paid back by Stiddard but the dealership was still left without some £23,000.
In mitigation, barrister John Dyer was quoted by the Advertiser as saying: ‘At the centre of this offending is the complete hopelessness of this fraud. It looks on the papers sophisticated, but it wasn’t.’
Stiddard, of Tytherington, Gloucestershire, was said to be in poor mental health and very unwell.
‘He is full of remorse. He doesn’t know quite why he did this, except out of desperation. He bitterly regrets those months he spent being, as it were, relatively immature,’ said Mr Dyer.
Stiddard was handed a 16-month prison sentence suspended for two years and also ordered to complete 200 hours’ unpaid work plus 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days.
He received a suspended sentence https://t.co/yLrsBt9uJs
— Swindon Advertiser (@swindonadver) April 1, 2021
Judge Jason Taylor QC was quoted as telling him: ‘You were always ultimately going to be – I suspect – found out.
‘But the ease with which you could do it and your greed and desperation led you to increase the amounts in order to pay off substantial debts which you felt under pressure about.
‘I am dealing with you today for a fraud with a total value of £23,000.
‘The gravamen [the essence of an accusation] here is the breach of trust, because any company needs to be able to trust its employees in order to operate, because you can’t watch people 24/7.’
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