Fenland man banned from being company director as dad is jailed for forming fraudulent business

A MAN, who set up a fraudulent company with his wife and son, has been jailed for two years after defrauding traders out of goods worth more than �180,000.

Peterborough Crown Court heard how John Gilbert, 62, his wife Stephanie, 47 and their 37-year-old son Robert were former directors of I&J Developments, that never conducted any trade or business.

The company obtained goods on credit, including bulk orders of laptop computers, televisions, printers and printer cartridges and various building materials but made no payment for any.

In total, 48 companies and sole traders delivered goods to the company between April and June 2009, mainly to an industrial unit at Northey House, in Oxney Road, Peterborough, but also to a next door unit and the home addresses and work places of all three defendants.

The three were convicted of offences following a trial which finished on December 8.

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John Gilbert, of The Village, in Orton Longueville, Peterborough was found guilty of conspiring to obtain criminal property, two counts of fraud by false representation and contravening a company directors disqualification order.

He was jailed for two years for the conspiracy, six months for one fraud and 12 months for the other fraud count, both to run concurrently, and banned from being a company director for 10 years.

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Stephanie, of the same address as her husband, was given a 12 month community order, told to carry out 75 hours of unpaid work and banned from being a company director for five years.

She was found guilty of contravening a company directors disqualification order, by assisting her husband, and of fraud by false representation by providing false details on a bank account application at Lloyds TSB.

Their son Robert, of Churchfield Way, Whittlesey, was fined �500 and also disqualified from being a company director for five years after being found guilty of contravening a company directors disqualification order, by assisting his father. He was acquitted of fraud by false representation relating to the opening of a bank account.

The court heard John Gilbert set up I&J Developments in 2004 to develop land in Benwick. The project was cancelled soon afterwards and the company remained dormant.

In 2006 he was disqualified from being a company director for separate matters but then Stephanie and Robert became directors of the still dormant I&J Developments.

In 2008, Stephanie opened a bank account in the name of I&J Developments, giving false details about future developments, turnover and funding.

In early 2009, false accounts were submitted to Companies House showing the company to have a turnover of about �1.2 million for the year 2008/09.

In April of that year, John was involved with the rental of the industrial unit at Northey House on a three month lease. It is then that orders began to be made for goods that were never honoured, including orders worth �5,000 from Jackson Building Centres.

In June, when payments for the goods started to become due, the Northey House unit was vacated and all telephone and e-mail communication with the company stopped.

The matter was reported to police and an investigation launched.

In interview, Gilbert initially claimed he had sold the company in 2009 and had no connection to the fraudulent activity. However, he changed his story after evidence was put to him and claimed he had got involved as a favour to the man he had sold the firm to. He denied knowing in advance that the goods would not be paid for.

Robert and Stephanie both claimed they acted at all times on the instructions of John.

Det Con Louise Spinks said: “John Gilbert reactivated this dormant company with the intention of acquiring goods but never paying for them.

“His wife and son were brought into the fraud because he had been banned from being a company director.

“This fraud involved a lot of victims and a high value of goods and Gilbert will now have plenty of time behind bars to consider the error of his ways.”

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