A letting agent has been spared jail despite stealing over £7,600 from tenants to subsidise his failing business.
Simon Cawley, from Kingsbridge in Devon, used deposits paid to his agency in Worcester - Severn Sales and Lettings - to prop up the company.
The Devon Live news website says that between January 1 2013 and February 28 2015, Cawley stole £7,640 from tenants renting six properties around Worcester.
Now Cawley, appearing at Worcester Crown Court, has admitted one count of fraud; he was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years and ordered to pay £700 in costs.
The presiding judge said:"As part of your role as a letting agent you were supposed to be taking a deposit of money and putting it into a deposit protection scheme so that, in due course, tenants who didn't have deductions from their deposit could get their money back.
"You used that money in order to ease your own cash flow difficulties, effectively robbing Peter to pay Paul.
"It was left to the landlord to pay back the tenants' deposits despite the fact that landlords had never had the money. You totally ignored your obligation as letting agent to safely ring-fence the deposits in the way you should.
"Thankfully no vulnerable tenants lost out in this case, in fact no tenant at all, because the landlords have done the decent thing and paid the deposits back. It was the owners and landlords who lost out.
"The offence easily crosses the custody threshold but I'm going to give you a chance by imposing a suspended sentence."
Crawley had been trading as an agent for 30 years, setting up his own business in 2004.
The full story is here.