A letting agent tried has escaped jail after trying to bolster his failing business by spending money paid by tenants to secure their rented homes.
Simon Cawley, 53, ran Severn Sales and Lettings in Worcester, and took £7,640 when his business ran into cash flow problems.
The money was paid by tenants as rent and deposits on six properties in the city between January 2013 and February 2015.
Cawley admitted fraud and was jailed for nine months, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay £700 costs.
Judge Nicolas Cartwright said: “As part of your role as a letting agent you were supposed to be taking a deposit of money and putting it into a deposit protection scheme so that, in due course, tenants who didn’t have deductions from their deposit could get their money back.
“You used that money to ease your own cash flow difficulties, effectively robbing Peter to pay Paul.
“The offence easily crosses the custody threshold but I’m going to give you a chance by imposing a suspended sentence.”
A proceeds of crime hearing aimed at recovering the stolen money is scheduled for July.
Cawley set up the letting business in 2008.
Since his arrest, Cawley’s business has closed and he has moved to Devon, where he works as a landscape gardener.
Meanwhile, Heather Crabb, a former director of Drake Homes, a letting agency trading in and around Plymouth, Devon, has been charged with five charges of fraud and theft involving around £450,000.
Crabb, 51, of Citadel Road, Plymouth, is on unconditional bail and will attend Plymouth Magistrates Court for a hearing on March 1.
She was arrested in December 2016 after a police inquiry in response to complaints from landlords and tenants around the city.
Finally in this roundup, landlord David Corry faced magistrates in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, charged with failing to produce a gas safety certificate to the HSE.
The charge relates to an improvement notice and demands to see a gas safety certificate served on Corry in August 2016.
Corry failed to comply with notice.
He admitted the offence and was sentenced to serve 36 weeks in jail, suspended for 12 months. He also must serve 140 hours of unpaid work and was ordered to pay costs £6,426.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Wayne Owen said: “David Corry potentially put the health of his tenants at risk and chose to ignore the repeated requests by the HSE to produce the gas safety record.
“Every year around seven people die from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues that have not been properly installed, maintained or that are poorly ventilated. It is important that landlords fulfil their legal gas safety obligations to their tenants.”