Boston timber managers handed suspended prison sentences following £12k fraud

TWO senior managers who used their jobs at a Boston timber merchants to make £12,000 in a fraud have been given suspended jail sentences by a judge.

Nicholas Petitt, 41, and Darren Atkinson, 42, secretly set up their own rival company called Witham Timber after being employed by Calders and Grandidge on London Road.

Lincoln Crown Court was told the two men obtained timber using one of Calders and Grandidge’s existing fencing clients, after learning of a lucrative contract to supply planters to bars and nightclubs.

Jon Dee, prosecuting, said: “Witham Timbers was set up to exploit that business opportunity.

“The fraud arose because Witham Timbers needed to source timbers. That was done by Atkinson through subterfuge.”

Mr Dee told the court Petitt had been with Calders and Grandidge since 1991 and was employed as a quality manager until he left in 2007.

Atkinson rose to the position of sales manager after being employed as fork lift driver on Petitt’s recommendation in 2000 but was dismissed after the fraud was discovered in early 2008.

In total 72 orders were placed during the fraud, Mr Dee added.

Gordon Aspden, mitigating, said both men admitted acting in an underhand way but he described it as a ‘highly unusual situation’.

“No one in this case suffered a loss, everyone in this case made a profit, the difference is they made a profit they were not entitled to make,” Mr Aspden added.

Mr Aspden told the court Witham Timber now employed several members of staff and was only just beginning to make a profit because of the difficult economic times.

Atkinson, of Tower Road, Boston, and Petitt, of Bayswood Avenue, Boston, each admitted a single charge of fraud during 2007 and early 2008.

They were both sentenced to nine months imprisonment, suspended for a year, and each ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work in the community.

Passing sentence on Monday Judge Michael Heath told them: “There is no getting away from the fact that this is a serious breach of trust.

“Secretly, dishonestly, fraudulently, deceitfully, you set up your own rival company called Witham Timber to exploit what you perceived to be a business opportunity.”