A car retailer has avoided jail after admitting a £23,000 fraud to meet debts built-up as the result of a “significant midlife crisis”.
Grant Stiddard, of Tytherington, Gloucestershire, defrauded thousands from his then employers Chippenham Motor Company between mid-2019 and February last year, Swindon Crown Court heard.
The Swindon Advertiser reported that the 46-year-old’s fraud, which he had pleaded guilty to at an early hearing, had seen him take cash from customers and raised false invoices to motor factors around the country.
He later repaid some of the money, but an outstanding sum of £23,000 remained.
The Swindon Advertiser reported that the Stiddard had taken a £15,000 pay cut to gain employment with the Ford, Kia, Peugeot and Seat franchised dealer group after losing his previous job.
His had lost a car retail job in Bristol after an employment tribunal resulted from what was described in court as a "romantic indiscretion" at work which led to an allegation of harassment.
The incident led to the loss of his job, the temporary loss of his marriage and the start of what the judge called a “significant mid-life crisis”, the Swindon Advertiser said.
John Dyer, mitigating, told Swindon Crown Court that his client had “behaved like a 20-year-old” for a period of around six months following the tribunal, “vastly overconsuming things he should not have been consuming and running into debt with gambling”.
Mr Dyer said that Stiddard’s offending had not been sophisticated, adding that his client was suffering from poor mental health and was “full of remorse”.
Judge Jason Taylor QC imposed a 16-month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered Stiddard to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days.
Judge Taylor said that the “gravamen” in the case was attached to breach of trust, adding: “Any company needs to be able to trust its employees in order to operate because you can’t watch people 24/7.”