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Conman used ill-gotten gains on hot air balloon ride
2:20pm Monday 18th June 2012 in News
A conman who cheated a Tewkesbury customer out of £5,800 spent the money on treats for a dying nephew, a court was told.
Stephen Hodgkins, 42, of Chedworth Drive, Warndon, Worcester, used the money to pay for two holidays and a hot air balloon ride for the nephew and his family, Gloucester Crown Court was told.
Hodgkins was jailed for two years after he admitted defrauding Roger Woodward, of Tewkesbury, out of £4,500 on August 24 last year and £1,300 the following day.
The court heard that Hodgkins was working as a self-employed agent for Severn Valley Home Improvements when he visited Mr Woodward, who wanted a new porch.
He persuaded Mr Woodward to pay him cash up front for the porch, telling him that he would be keeping £800 for himself as commission.
But he did not pass the order on to the firm and Mr Woodward would have lost his money if the company had not decided to honour the deal and carry out the work, said Giles Nelson, prosecuting.
The court was told that Hodgkins had served jail sentences for previous convictions for dishonesty.
Recorder Jonathan Fuller QC said: “I am told you spent the money on holidays for your family and for your nephew, who rather sadly died last December.
“I do accept that your nephew did die and that you may well have handed over some money, but you did also have a gambling habit.
“You must have realised you simply were not to be generous with Mr Woodward’s money.
“Whatever you did with the money, Mr Woodward lost it through your fraud.
“But it looks as if he won’t lose out in the end by what you did because Severn Valley are prepared to take the loss by doing the work.
“That is only right since they failed to discover your record, which would have prevented them from employing you in the first place.
“I hope that no one will employ you in future in a situation where you are tempted to go around making money dishonestly from householders.”
Simon Emslie, defending, said: “It was the boy’s wish to go on a hot air balloon ride and the trip duly took place in Worcester.
“His nephew, his parents and one of his siblings all went.
“He also gave money to the family to pay for two holidays – one in Torquay and one in Weston-super-Mare.
“He recognises, of course, that this does not excuse his behaviour.”