19th Sep, 2019

Building company boss who got pensioner to cash cheques from closed accounts escapes jail

A BUILDING company boss who got a Warwick pensioner to cash cheques from bank accounts he knew had been closed has escaped being jailed.

James McNamara, who had a previous conviction for fraud, cheated Leamington business Chequers out of more than £1,400.

The 62-year-old, of Delius Street, Tile Hill, Coventry, had originally pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to three charges of fraud by false representation.

But on the day his co-defendant, 70-year-old Angela Saul, of Lyttleton Road, pleaded not guilty to the charges earlier this month, he changed his pleas to guilty.

And following an adjournment for a report to be prepared on him, McNamara was given a 20-month community order, with a rehabilitation activity, and was ordered to pay £720 compensation.

Prosecutor Ian Windridge said a decision had been taken that, although she ‘probably knew what was going on,’ it was not in the public interest to continue with the case against Saul in the light of her physical and mental health conditions.

He said the offences involved a series of cheque frauds against Chequers, which offers a cheque-cashing facility at its premises in Regent Grove, Leamington.

Customers with accounts at the business can cash cheques made out to them, minus a fee for the service.

Saul was one such account holder, and she paid in three cheques drawn on the account of McNamara’s company Combined Building Services Ltd which had been closed.

When McNamara was arrested and interviewed, he accepted being a director of Combined Building Services, and that he knew Saul, who he said could not be trusted, but that he did not know of Chequers.

Mr Windridge added McNamara had old convictions for dishonesty, but nothing since 1996 apart from a plant hire fraud in 2013 for which he had been given a suspended sentence.

Richard Baker, defending, said McNamara could no longer work because of health problems.

Of the offences, he made the point that the cheques were ‘always going to be traceable’ back to McNamara, who had seen it as

a “quick-fire way to obtain money” as had Saul.

Judge Peter Cooke said: “He’s a man who shows little contrition and precious little victim awareness. However, I have to bear in mind the relatively low amount and the conclusion that the risk of re-offending is low.”

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