A Rugby letting agent who used his clients’ money in a bid to prop up his ailing business will face another 15 months in jail if he does not pay compensation to his victims.
Stephen Greenwood was jailed for 12 months in February after he pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to four charges of fraud.
But a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act was adjourned at that time for an investigation to be carried out into the crooked agent’s finances.
And at the resumed hearing last week, prosecutor Michelle Heeley said it had been agreed that Greenwood’s benefit from his offences was a total of £78,067.
His assets, which included Rolex and Cartier watches and a car, came to a total of £43,910.
So Judge Robert Orme made a confiscation order for that amount, which he said should be used to pay compensation to Greenwood’s victims.
He ordered Greenwood to pay the full £43,910 within three months – or face a further 15 months in jail in default.
During the original hearing the court was told that Greenwood, who asked for 59 further frauds to be considered, stole £69,518 in a bid to keep his business going.
Greenwood, 55, of Brindley Paddocks, Draper’s Field, Coventry, had set up Greenwood Homes as an estate agents and letting agent in Rugby in 1985 and was the sole director and shareholder until it closed for business in October 2009 and went into liquidation in November owing a total of £382,000.
The offences then came to light after landlords of properties managed by the business found they had not received rental payments they were due because Greenwood had redirected them to himself, said prosecutor Michael Anning.
One of Greenwood Homes’s activities was to find tenants for properties and collect the rent, deducting a ten per cent commission and forwarding the balance to the landlords.
Greenwood’s victims included Thomas Kelleher who owns several properties in Rugby and used Greenwood Homes to manage four apartments at an address in Church Street.
For six years the arrangement worked without any problems, but in October 2009 Mr Kelleher discovered the business had stopped trading.
So he checked his account and found the last payment had been made in January that year, but he had continued to receive statements showing transfers had been made.
Mr Kelleher had lost a total of £11,592 which had been intended to help repay the loan he had taken out to develop the apartments in 2002.
Other victims included Dr Balachandran Sriram who was defrauded out of £7,800 in the same way, David Wilson who had lost £7,250 and to Christopher Sedgefield who lost £749.
When Greenwood was arrested he said he had run into financial difficulties with people who owed him money in Spain, and he was taking money from different accounts to pay bills to continue running his business, added Mr Anning.
Matthew Brook, defending, said at the original hearing: “Mr Greenwood today is, in effect, a broken man. He had built up a reputation and a business over decades and that, today, is in ruins.”