Caravan firm boss cheated customers
A CARAVAN company boss swindled customers and an insurance company out of almost £60,000, a court heard.
Shaun Cole sold caravans and pocketed the money without telling the owners – before his business went bust, Plymouth Crown Court was told.
The 45-year-old has since been working as a pizza delivery driver and living part of the time in a caravan.
But now Cole will be swapping his motor home for a prison cell as he starts a 31-month jail sentence.
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And the court heard prosecutors had started proceedings to force him to pay back some of the money he swindled.
Judge Paul Darlow said a probation report portrayed him as "arrogant and evasive".
He told Cole: "The one word I was listening for, but which did not come, was 'sorry'."
Cole, of Lamorna Park, Torpoint, admitted 13 charges of fraud between January and October 2007.
Jason Beal, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said the total defrauded from customers and the insurance company was £59,700. The vendors lost sums ranging from £561 to £9,000.
Mr Beal added that Cole had been the boss of Plymouth Caravan Centre in Newnham Road, Plympton.
He said Cole would sell caravans on behalf of the owners, taking a five per cent commission from the sale price and charging the vendors to service the vehicles.
He added that in some cases Cole simply did not tell the owners their caravans had sold, and retained the money.
Mr Beal said he also misled them about sale prices, telling them they had sold for less and keeping the difference for himself.
He added Cole also overcharged customers for the servicing of their vehicles.
Mr Beal said 14 caravans were damaged at his premises in June 2007. He said Cole inflated by nearly £11,000 the amount paid to repair the damage and pocketed the insurance payout.
He added that Cole closed down the business in October 2007 and was made bankrupt in the following January.
The court heard how the Official Receiver alerted police.
Cole was disqualified from being a company director for nine years in 2009.
Malcolm Clark, for Cole, said he was living part of the week in a caravan and the rest of the week with his girlfriend.
He added he was working as a pizza delivery driver but had not saved any money to pay back his former customers.
Mr Clark said he had not set out to be dishonest and had intended to pay the customers back.
He added: "He thought the best way of doing this was to keep the business afloat."
The court heard he had not lived a lavish lifestyle.