A Ford dealership was defrauded of more than £11,000 by an employee who got customers to pay money into his account for cars they had bought.
Ex-soldier Colin Morris, of Woodbank Road, Whitby, admitted defrauding M53 Ford out of the money between February and March 2020, reported the Chester Standard.
The city’s crown court was told that before being employed as a sales executive in November 2019, Morris had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing ‘horrors’ while serving with the army in Helmand Province, including two friends losing limbs after an explosion.
Following his discharge and subsequent diagnosis, his life had unravelled and the former lance-corporal got into drug debt, owing money to a gangster.
There hadn’t been any problems until Barclays Bank contacted the dealership on March 6, 2020 because Morris had been there with two customers attempting to pay for a car but there were discrepancies in the account details.
When he got back to the dealership, he looked ‘flustered’ and claimed he had given his sort code by accident.
However, it was subsequently discovered that payments totalling £11,287 for two other cars had been made to Morris rather than the dealership.
The customers were allowed to keep the cars, with the dealership shouldering the loss for the time being, although it said it would be seeking compensation.
Morris, 29, who had six previous convictions, had told his bosses he would pay the money back but didn’t so was suspended and the police were brought in, reported the Standard.
After his discharge, he began self-medicating with alcohol and cocaine to deal with the PTSD, according to the report.
In mitigation, Gareth Roberts said Morris had had an ‘exemplary’ army record and that since the offence he’d given up drink and drugs, was in a new relationship, and had been getting help for his mental health problems.
Sentencing Morris yesterday (Mar 3) to 10 months in jail suspended for 18 months, Honorary Recorder of Chester Judge Steven Everett called it a ‘mean and spiteful’ offence.
‘I am quite prepared to accept the horrors of what you saw in Helmand Province would have caused you real problems,’ the Standard reported him as saying.
‘But I tell you frankly, the self-medication, using cocaine, I have no sympathy for you whatsoever.
‘You decided to medicate by buying this evil drug and you got yourself into debt. You were also poisoning your body.
‘There were threats made to pay off the drug debt and that is the principal motive behind what you did.
‘It was not terribly sophisticated – there was always going to be a reckoning. The company would have found they had sold two cars and did not get any money for them.
‘I am unimpressed you were given a chance to repay the money and you didn’t.’
Morris must carry out a rehabilitation activity for up to 35 days plus 150 hours of voluntary work.
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