A car mechanic conned money out of his employers by altering the numbers and words on his weekly pay cheques.
Timothy James Vicary paid the doctored cheques into his bank but the scam was spotted by his boss when she came to reconcile the books.
The defendant’s own barrister called the con “ridiculous” and said it was one that was bound to be detected.
A judge at Swansea Crown Court said the 41-year-old had been publicly branded “a thoroughly dishonest man” by his conviction.
Craig Jones, prosecuting, said Vicary worked as a mechanic on a self-employed basis for Geraint Jones 4×4, a well-established family business in west Wales. He said the defendant was paid weekly with boss Margaret Jones writing his pay cheques every week.
The court heard that in January 2020 Mrs Jones was doing the company books and cross-referencing payments when she noticed “discrepancies” between sums paid out and the details in the cheque book stubs. Four discrepancies were found on cheques from November and December and all related to cheques issued to Vicary.
Mr Jones said inquiries were made with the bank and it emerged the cheques which had been paid in had been altered “though the bank was no able to say by whom”.
The court heard digits and words on the cheques had been changed by Vicary such as the number three changed to an eight. In total some £1,060 had been scammed from the firm.
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The court heard Vicary was called in to the dealership but denied doing anything wrong and claimed there must have been an error at the bank.
In his subsequent police interview the defendant had “no explanation” for how the cheques had come to altered but suggested Mrs Jones may have made a mistake.
Vicary, of The Beeches, Llandysul, Ceredigion, had previously pleaded guilty to four counts of making a false instrument when he appeared in the dock for sentencing.
James Hartson, for Vicary, called the scam “ridiculous” and said it was all but inevitable that the altered cheques would be found.
He said it was perhaps “stubbornness” on the part of the dad-of-four which led him to maintaining his innocence to his employer and to the police and then before magistrates where he entered not guilty pleas and opted for a trial at crown court before changing his stance.
Judge Paul Thomas QC told Vicary he had been a trusted contractor at a family-run business but had repaid that trust with “blatant dishonesty”.
The judge said the defendant’s actions were “as cynical as they were unsophisticated” and he said it had taken Vicary a long time to come to terms with what he had done and accept he had been publicly branded “a thoroughly dishonest man” by his conviction.
Giving the defendant credit for his guilty pleas the judge sentenced him to 30 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months and ordered him to complete a rehabilitation course and 150 hours of unpaid work.
The court issued a confiscation order in the sum on £1,060 – money he can realise through the sale of vehicles he owns – and directed that money be paid to the 4×4 garage as compensation. Vicary was also ordered to pay £20,000 towards the cost of his prosecution.