A lettings agent who stole over £23,000 from tenants to pay for his gambling habit and pay off debt has escaped jail.
A court in Preston has heard that Paul Philipps-Young worked at a Reeds Rains office as a lettings negotiator and had what was described as a “significant degree of responsibility” - but over a seven month period he took deposits from seven properties and paid them into his personal account.
A report on the news website Lancashire Live says that prosecutor Mercedes Jabbari told Preston Crown Court that Reeds Rains had a clear policy on the handling of rent payments, including a ban on receiving cash payments.
The website quotes extensive from Jabbari’s comments to the court. She said: "It transpired that it involved somewhere in the region of seven properties where the defendant had been involved and responsible for sorting the tenancy applications.
"What became clear was that the defendant, who was responsible for taking money from the tenants, subsequently placed the money into his own personal bank account.
"In fact when the money started being paid in he ultimately contacted the accounts department to inform them of a new change of account details and that new changed account was the defendants.
"Thereafter once the money was paid into his account the payment would then be moved from his account.
"In essence he was taking the money but attempting at certain stages to repay the money and maintain the accounts during that period."
Some £23,315 was taken and put into the defendants account and that £14,195 remains outstanding. The court heard that the debt has now been repaid in full and the defendant - who pleaded guilty - had offered to repay the money to Reeds Rains in monthly instalments.
Defence barrister Andrew Nuttall said since the incident his client has sought help from Gamblers Anonymous and has a new job.
Philipps-Young was given a 12-month jail sentence, suspended for 18 months with 100 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay £5,400 compensation.
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