Businessman avoids jail for ripping off recycling firm with fictitious bills
A shamed businessman who "took advantage" of his good relationship with a clothing recycling firm has been handed a suspended jail term for fraud.
Keith Robinson (36), of Bank Square, Maghera, appeared at Antrim Magistrates Court yesterday and was sentenced to six months, suspended for three years, for making a false representation to Cookstown Textile Recyclers that payment was due to his firm KR Engineering for works completed.
He pleaded guilty to the offence at an earlier court sitting.
A prosecutor told the court yesterday that Robinson's firm carried out maintenance on equipment used by the Cookstown firm.
But it was noticed that payment was being asked for work that was incomplete.
At one stage Robinson had falsely invoiced for 21 bins that "didn't exist" to the tune of £9,540.
The scam was uncovered when a representative of Cookstown Textile Recyclers visited KR Engineering.
A defence lawyer said his client's business had got into financial difficulties and although the fraud was planned, it was "unsophisticated".
He said Robinson "ploughed" the money back into the business to ensure his four employees would keep their jobs. He said that after the offences emerged Robinson handed over the firm without seeking any money so the workers would still have jobs, adding that Robinson was unemployed and had no means to repay the money he defrauded.
District Judge Oonagh Mullan said it was a "breach of trust with an existing customer who he had a good relationship with and he took advantage of that".
She told Robinson she wanted to see him making efforts to pay back the money. The judge said due to his "difficult family circumstances" she was suspending the sentence for three years.