Businessman escapes jail for defrauding Cookstown recycling firm

editorial image
Have your say

A shamed businessman who “took advantage” of his good relationship with one of Northern Ireland’s best known clothing recycling firms has had a suspended jail term imposed for fraud.

Keith Robinson (36), of Bank Square, Maghera, appeared at Antrim Magistrates Court and was given six months in jail, suspended for three years, for making a false representation to Cookstown Textile Recyclers, that payment was due to his firm KR Engineering for works completed.

He pleaded guilty to the offence at an earlier court.

A prosecutor told the court that Robinson’s firm carried out maintenance on equipment used by the Cookstown firm but it was noticed that payment was being asked for work that was incomplete.

At one stage Robinson had falsely invoiced for 21 bins that “didn’t exist” to the tune of £9,540.

The scam was uncovered when a representative of Cookstown Textile Recyclers visited the yard of KR Engineering.

A defence lawyer said his client’s business had got into financial difficulties and although the fraud was planned it was “unsophisticated”.

He said Robinson was leaving the court with a “stain on his character” and was “deeply ashamed”.

The lawyer said Robinson had not spent the money he defrauded on holidays or a “lavish” lifestyle but instead “ploughed” it back into the business to ensure his four employees would keep their jobs.

The lawyer said that after the offences emerged Robinson handed over the firm without seeking any money so the workers would still have jobs.

The lawyer said Robinson is now unemployed and has no means to repay the money he defrauded.

District Judge Oonagh Mullan said it was a “breach of trust with an existing customer who he had a good relationship with and he took advantage of that”.

She told Robinson she wanted to see him making efforts to pay back the money and said if the fraud had not been detected it may have continued for some time.

The judge said it was clearly a case which crossed the custody threshold and one which had brought “shame” on the defendant but that with reluctance, due to his “difficult family circumstances,” she was suspending a six months jail sentence for three years.